They say that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. But it is my pleasure to tell you about a fantastic new game that is rapidly gaining popularity and may just pave the way for an entirely new form of marketing.
Foursquare – One Giant Promotion Possibility
Foursquare is an addictive social networking game, played on the mobile phone. Players are awarded points for visiting shops, cafes, restaurants, parks and other places of interest. They use their mobile phone to ‘check in’ to a location and can leave ‘tips’ – brief notes telling other people about fun things to buy, see or do at that particular venue. I can’t help but see this as one giant promotion possibility!
How do you get involved in this game? It’s simple! The basics you already understand, so the obvious thing to do is sign up and make sure your business is featured. Anyone can add a new venue, and signing up is a relatively quick and painless affair.
Once a player has visited a venue more times than anyone else, they are awarded Mayor of that location for the week. If I ran a business, the very first thing I would do is offer each weekly Mayor one free drink, sandwich or maybe a small discount on a purchase. Just a small incentive that will encourage everyone to compete to be your best customer!
There are a number of other creative ways you might further influence potential customers – perhaps you could leave a tip, encourage people to try a particular product or service. You could even let people know about a great deals or offers you have (be careful to write it as advice from another member of the public, not too obviously promotional!).
Each badge is won by a player doing something specific. For instance, the Bender badge comes from checking in to the same venue four nights in a row, the School Nights Badge is won by checking in to a venue after 3pm on a weekday. There are a lot of badges, awarded for all sorts of crazy scenarios. Many businesses will probably find there are some good reasons to encourage people to obtain a particular badge from them. For instance, if you find yourself busy at weekends but are not seeing many sales during the week then the School Nights badge would be perfect! Could you encourage people to earn it at your shop?
Launched in March 2009 in the U.S., Foursquare has steadily expanded across the globe, entering a large number of UK cities only last month. At the time of writing this is still a growing phenomenon and little known outside of the U.S. It is also more suited to the newer generation of mobile phones such as the Blackberry or iPhone, where Foursquare provide their own custom software that runs using your Internet connection. Potentially anyone can play using SMS to ‘check in’ with any phone.
As this continues to expand, those who get involved early will have more space to promote themselves and a greater potential to lure customers to visit more often!