Foursquare Update: What's Nearby

If you are a location-based business – a restaurant or a shop, for example – Foursquare’s latest update to its app is worth a look.

Diane S. Thieke,


If you are a location-based business – a restaurant or a shop, for example – Foursquare’s latest update to its app is worth a look. Foursquare also has a set of tools for businesses that can help you promote specials and elevate the status of your best customers.

Foursquare has more than 30 million users who have “checked in” at locations more than 3.5 billion times, and while its future is still uncertain, it’s worth carving out a presence on its grid. The company launched a major update of its mobile app in mid-April, which has shifted the focus from finding friends who are nearby to locating places and things close to where you’ve checked in.

This change presents a better marketing opportunity for location-based businesses because it puts their products and services at the center of the user experience.

Search is featured prominently on the opening screen, along with what Foursquare says are the most interesting things around you. Data is driving these insights. It’s evaluating the popularity of a place based on the number of people who check in. But not just everyone – your friends count more in the algorithm. If your friends have visited a place nearby, that place is more likely to be recommended to you.

It’s also able to determine where people go next: for example, from a movie theater across the street to the diner. What’s more, it makes recommendations based on time of day. So if you’ve arrived at a client’s office at 8 am, then the nearest coffee shop will pop up as a recommendation.

While Yelp has more than three times the users – 100 million as of January – this new focus on personalized recommendations of things to do may position Foursquare to become a major contender. In fact, Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley says that’s just what they’re looking to do.

Business owners can use Foursquare’s free tools to engage with customers. There are two ways to promote your business: create specials and post updates. Specials reward people for stopping by, such as discounts or free gifts. Updates allow businesses to promote what’s new, such as events or the arrival of new products. Both can be managed from a mobile app just for businesses.

The company also offers advertising options, such as promoted specials. It’s under pressure to find new revenue streams, so expect more promotional opportunities for small businesses.

Diane S. Thieke is the president and founder of Simply Talk Media, a digital media marketing consultancy. With more than 25 years in digital media and technology, she helps clients build stronger relationships with their customers and communities, using both social and traditional channels. Follow her on Twitter at @thiekeds or visit her blog at www.simplytalkmedia.com/blog.

Photograph by Annette Shaff / Shutterstock.com

About the Author

Diane S. Thieke
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