Foursquare Gives Local Businesses More Reasons to Play
- Local Updates, which help businesses stay in touch with regular customers
- Promoted Updates, which help them reach potential new customers.
With Local Updates, users can get posts from their favorite businesses alongside those of their friends. Posts from businesses appear in their activity feed. These posts can include news, photos, special offers or information. Users signal their desire to hear from a business by liking it or simply checking in at its location several times.
Local Updates only appear when a user is in the same city as a business.
Promoted Updates allow businesses to advertise in the Explore tab of the Foursquare app and site. Advertisers buy keywords for the Explore tab, and their businesses appear in the results when users search that keyword. Steven Rosenblatt, Foursquare’s chief revenue officer, told The New York Times that paid results will be ranked according to “the same algorithm” as organic results.
Foursquare calls Promoted Updates a “paid pilot,” and it is currently only open to a handful of partners. But Rosenblatt calls the program a “natural progression” for the platform, so a rapid rollout seems likely.
The new features arrive as Foursquare looks to turn its growing popularity into a business model while reinforcing its strategy of helping users discover cities with the help of friends. The new offerings appear to strike a good balance between good business and user-centricity.
Context + Opportunity
With these updates, Foursquare signals its commitment to businesses active on its platform. This marks an evolution, if not a reversal, in Foursquare’s positioning to outside firms.
CEO Dennis Crowley once expressed belief that advertising would dilute Foursquare’s user-powered community. Local Updates and Promoted Updates are Foursquare’s bet that users will embrace an ad model that helps them discover places they want to go.
The two new tools round out Foursquare’s offering to marketers, giving it solutions for each of paid, owned, and earned media. Paid gets the new keyword-driven Promoted Updates as well as the existing special offers tool. Owned includes claimed business pages, photos, tips and lists. And earned opportunities abound within Foursquare, including organic Explore tab results, Local Updates to loyal customers and friend-driven discovery via the activity feed.
Brian Yamada is an executive director @VML leading social, mobile, media, search and CRM practice teams. Digital enthusiast. Bourbon drinker. Bad golfer. Brian joined VML in 1999. Past and present client partners includes BP/Castrol, Dell, Ernst & Young, Gatorade, H&R Block, Hallmark, HSBC, Intuit, Revlon, Southwest Airlines, State Farm, Warner Bros. and Western Union. Brian has a passion for planning and strategy, loves the pursuit of the big idea and finds it ironic that the faster technology moves to make our lives easier, the less time we think we have.