Over the past year, geo-location social apps like Foursquare have really taken off. These apps present awesome marketing opportunities for a number of brands (restaurants, retail, events, etc) in that you can use them to entice potential customers to visit your venue by offering them special deals and recognition.
I am a regular Foursquare user and while I wholeheartedly encourage brands to use it to its fullest while the network is strong, I do have a few best practices I recommend you follow when using the app….
Don’t #1: Don’t Check in to your own home.
It didn’t take criminals long to figure out how to exploit social media for their benefit. As Foursquare and other similar apps grow, we are seeing more and more stories about robberies happening because of them. In this sense, I am less concerned about letting the unsavory know when you are home than I am about letting them know when you aren’t.
Another reason why you shouldn’t check in to your home is because of the ramifications it may have on other social networks. A number of Foursquare users have their check-ins connected to their Twitter and/or Facebook accounts. For the most part, Twitter timelines are public. If you check in to your home on Foursquare and it tweets it out, you are broadcasting to millions where you live. I acknowledge this is worst-case, but what if you had Tweeted something in the past that someone took offense to and now they know where you live…does that make you feel comfortable?
Facebook users tend to keep their network smaller and more private, but generally have no problem accepting a friend request from a person they dated or went to school with 20 years ago and haven’t seen since. What has that person been up to in the past 20 years? You have no idea. Do you really want them knowing exactly where you live?
Think about it, does anyone really care if you are the Mayor of your own home? Definitely not worth it!
Don’t #2: Don’t Accept Friend Requests from Strangers.
There is just no upside to telling people you don’t know where you are and a bunch of downside. Ever stop and wonder why a person that lives thousands of miles away cares where you check in to in your hometown? I don’t think I ever want to find out!
Don’t #3: Don’t Let You Employees Check In to Your Venue if You are Going to be Using Foursquare for Marketing Purposes.
I see this a lot and it is a real headscratcher. You check-in to a pizza joint and the Mayor has 100 check-ins. You see the name of the girl at the counter and realize she is the Mayor. She checks-in every day when she gets to work….
If this company never plans on using Foursquare for marketing, fine, everyone can check-in, but if this restaurant wanted to leverage the real power of this social tool to drive more people to their shop, they would have some problems. Seriously, how are you going to offer a ‘Mayor Special’ to the person that checks in the most, when everyone that visits your shop knows that they have to compete with people that have been/will be checking in daily when they come to work? Just bad marketing.
Social media has become a playground for smart marketers. There is a bunch of opportunity with apps like Foursquare. Just make sure you use it wisely and minimize your risk.