Why Obama on @Foursquare Is Good For Brands

By Frank Emanuele It's official! Our Commander-In-Chief has joined everyone's favorite location-based network: Foursquare! The White House announced via its blog on Monday that “There are over 10 million people already 'checking in' around the world, and now you’ll be able to discover 'tips' from the White House featuring the places President Obama has visited, what he did there, plus historical information and more.” While the President is not the first public figure to be represented on the rapidly-growing social network, he is arguably the most respected and beloved to date. My colleague Cara recently gave us an outstanding general look at what Foursquare can mean for businesses, but what's changed now that President Obama has checked into the location-based revolution? What does Obama on Foursquare mean for your brand?

How many times have you had to explain what Foursquare is and how it works? If your experience is anything like mine, you've been through this too many times. If the White House's Foursquare account receives the same publicity that was enjoyed by their Twitter account, I suspect you'll be giving your prepared "intro to Foursquare" speech a lot less than you're used to. Such a high-profile account tends to attract attention and spark the curiosity of users, which naturally leads to an increase in membership. This means more chances for you to reach out to consumers and turn them into brand ambassadors!

Many brands (including Likeable) create Foursquare pages and leave Tips at relevant locations. The History Channel has done some amazing things with this feature, delivering fun facts and trivia in the form of Tips at historical sites. The White House plans to do something similar. When people are pulling out their phones to see a tip from the White House at monuments and other sites around Washington, D.C., for example, imagine their surprise when they also find a Tip from your brand! If the Tip is good, they may stick around for more by following you!

Taking that idea to the next level, brands that sponsor Foursquare badges at locations where the White House has left a Tip or badge of their own will likely gain loyal fans. Nothing attracts customers quite like a free gift, even if that gift is purely virtual. There is something about those intangible badges that people just can't resist! Why not surprise and delight someone by rewarding their first check-in to the Lincoln Memorial with a "Welcome to D.C." badge sponsored by your brand?

And what about local businesses? Well, if more users start checking in because they want to keep up with the President, just think how they'll react when they check into your pub and receive a free drink on their first visit. I'll wager they'll be pretty pleased with you. Something as simple as that free drink can generate a lifelong customer, as long as you pair it with great products and service!

The main takeaway from President Obama joining Foursquare is this: the age of location-based social marketing is just beginning. There is still a tremendous market to be tapped here, and highly visible names like the White House provide brands with outstanding opportunities to shine in this space. Be a thought leader and take advantage of those opportunities!

How else can big names on Foursquare help brands? Will the White House be a game changer? Share your thoughts below!