What the heck is Foursquare?

What the heck is Foursquare? You’ve heard the buzz about Foursquare, but what is it? It’s one of the hottest new social media sites around, yet many social media newbies don’t know too much about it. How can you play? How can businesses take advantage of this hot new site?

Foursquare is a fun way of letting your friends know where you are and what you are doing when you are out on the town. Users “check-in” using their mobile phones to score points, unlock badges, and even mayor-ships for the places they visit. It’s also a great way to recommend places to go and things to do. Imagine checking in at a new restaurant you’ve never been to and your friend has already recommended the best appetizer on the menu. How convenient!

How can I play?

The best way to play is to install a handy Foursquare app on your mobile phone. There are convenient apps for the iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Palm phones. I recommend downloading a free mobile app, which pinpoint your location using the built-in GPS function on your phone. You can also visit their website to check-in via your web-enabled phone or laptop.

What’s in it for businesses?

Several large corporations, such as Starbucks, have joined the Foursquare buzz by creating custom badges. Users can receive a special “Barista Badge” for checking in five times at a Starbucks location.

However, you don’t have to have a huge marketing budget like Starbucks to use Foursquare in your local marketing strategy. Just a little bit of time and ingenuity is all it takes. Many local businesses have tapped into the social network to reward customers for being loyal patrons. Foursquare also rolled out a free analytics tool for businesses to keep track of who checks-in at their establishment. It doesn’t get much easier than that.