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Getting On Board With Foursquare

We’ve talked about social media numerous times, often underlining the fact that it does tremendous wonders to a business’ sales and marketing performance, most especially restaurants. But in those discussions we repeatedly had, it’s often more about Facebook and Twitter—sure, we did mention all the others, too, like when some analysts advised restaurateurs of social media strategies, telling them to check out other restaurant social media platforms EmpireAvenue, Namesake, Gowalla, Hashable, Foodspotting and Quora, but the bulk of our features were really about tweeting and facebooking.

Let me ask you this, then—have you tried utilizing Foursquare? And how often have you heard customers, bloggers and news reporters talk about it?

I, for one, often hear about Foursquare but have never really taken the time to take a closer look at it. Until I chanced upon a story on the web about how an owner of a burger joint in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (and his staff in excellent-looking aprons) got his hands full with 161 persons who all came at the same time, all in one afternoon, because of Foursquare and a game everyone in the group was playing.

The burger joint, AJ Bombers, had a “flash mob” of 161 Foursquare users who all came to eat at his place and together earned a highly coveted Foursquare prize, the “Swarm Badge” (which I later learned is given when there are 50 or more Foursquare users who check in at a certain venue all at the same time). The restaurant’s owner, Joe Sorge, says he just happened to explore the idea of badges, checked how badges work, got in touch with Foursquare and got all the help he needed to get. He went on to talk about the nitty-gritty details, but by then I already got the drift. Foursquare can indeed help restaurants, as much as Facebook and Twitter does.

Foursquare used to be a simple check-in platform—customers going to a place, they check in and let everyone know they’ve been there. But since it has become widely used by social media buffs all over, the location-based social networking website soon expanded to become a recommendation engine–complete with badges, discounts and promotions that their users have gotten to love. Now, it has been reported to have a listing of 250,000 restaurants in major U.S. cities and has 10 million registered users.

The games are quite fun, amusements which our much-sought-after millennials are so fond of. They have this “mayorship” award which is given to a user who has checked in to a place on more days than anyone else in the past 60 days; he (or she) will be capped “mayor” of that restaurant (and not necessarily by any of the restaurant wait staff in smart aprons—it could only be a virtual one), until another user gains the title. They have badges, “super user” statuses, scores and bonuses that are earned for milestones in usage, completion of tasks (a user got a NASA badge for checking into Foursquare from the International Space Station), help towards the community, and a variety of other reasons (you can get a BFF bonus for checking in with the same friend at multiple locations).

Becoming one of its merchants seems easy enough—sign-up at FourSquare.com, go to the merchants page, claim your restaurant (it’s surely in their listing by now), create a special and you’re good to go. Just like how you got yourself on board with Facebook and Twitter, perhaps it’s also about time to get on board with Foursquare, too.