Foursquare is the latest buzz in social media marketing. It’s a mobile app available on Iphone, Android, Blackberry, Palm, etc. It’s a geo-marketing and social media app built into one. It allows consumers to publicize their locations to friends. It integrates with Twitter and Facebook and allows users to “check-in” from their location.

It’s these “check-ins” or physical visits to Foursquare listed businesses that drive the system. When a user “checks-in”, it appears in Twitter, Facebook, and Foursquare profiles of both themselves and all their friends. Users who “check-in” frequently to venues can earn badges. They are very similar to Xbox achievement badges that gamers can achieve when hitting certain milestones. Unfortunately, these Foursquare badges are NOT publicized in advance. The number of badges available to unlock are unavailable, however there is one website that currently tracks all known badges. For users, these badge hunts are a fun viral way to stay connected; for businesses, it opens up a new realm of possibilities in local marketing.

FourSquare also allows your clients to connect with new potential customers in their area and strengthen their relationship with existing customers. It also helps incorporate Twitter and Facebook into your client’s Web marketing strategy. However, just like with any Internet marketing tool, you need to have a strategy in order to use FourSquare effectively.

Here are several ways to leverage Foursquare for small businesses:

1. Add Foursquare tips to inform customers

When Foursquare users visit a business, they can enter tips to help other users navigate the business more effectively. Business owners can do this as well. When new customers get in range of the business, the business information and tips can popup on their phone. It can be something like “Try out the new entree and get 10% off just for using FourSquare”

2. Make sure your business is listed

This is fairly explanatory. If you’re not listed in Foursquare or are listed incorrectly, you claim the listing by going here.
Do it now while you’re reading this! In addition, Google is now indexing FourSquare business profiles, so it gives your client an extra bit of ranking power.

3. Create a loyalty program with check-ins

Try to promote more check-ins (eventually more people traffic) to your storefront to encourage more interest in your business. With this in mind, you can institute a loyalty program.
It’s similar to those loyalty coffee cards where each time you purchase a coffee you get a sticker. Collect 10 stickers and you get a free coffee. Come up with a promotion for a certain number of check-ins registered with the site. When a customer reaches the number, they’ll receive a free item, special discount or recognition in the venue!

4. Offer discounts to increase visits

On slower days, you can offer free drinks if people come to your restaurant and check-in to Foursquare. This not only brings in more customers during slow days but will increase
the presence of the business on Foursquare.

5. Give Mayor something to do

The customer who checks-in to a particular business the most during a given month is given the “Mayor” tag for that location.
This game element encourages participation and makes it more appealing and fun to users.
You can add another perk for the Mayor by giving them the power to choose the coffee flavour of the month or reward them with free item

6. Social Networks

Link Twitter and Facebook to Foursquare to let these users know about Foursquare promotions and encourage them to come in and take advantage

7. Feedback

One great feature of Foursquare is that it allows customers to give feedback to your business. By monitoring the Foursquare business page, you can assess the response to your
promotions, what they like, and what changes they like to see. Take advantage of business analytics aspect that allows you to get insight in how the users are engaging your business