Using Foursquare in Tourism Marketing

Posted on February 15, 2010

4squareThere’s a new player in social media world and it’s coming to your playground.

Foursquare, a new social networking site, is a location-based version of Twitter. Users set up an account, and install an app on their phone which uses GPS to “check in” to different locations. Users can connect Foursquare to Twitter and post where they are and what they are doing at any given time.

Foursquare is more or less a game, where users try to check in to as many places as possible, earning points. Points are converted into badges. For example, whoever checks in the most at a place becomes mayor of that place, but can get ousted if someone checks in more times.

Alright, alright. So what does this mean for tourism marketing?

Even though Foursquare hasn’t become as popular and mainstream as Twitter and Facebook yet, it doesn’t mean it isn’t well on its way. Here are a few ways it can be used for destination marketing:

  1. Tourist monitoring. Think of this as a way to check in on those checking in to your location.  Get an idea of who is visiting, and what other places they enjoy visiting. Also, Foursquare allows users to post their Twitter and Facebook profiles on their Foursquare profile, giving you the ability to connect with them on other platforms.
  2. Promotions. Already, Foursquare users are having fun competing with one another over who can become mayor, or rack up certain coveted badges. Why don’t you join in the fun? Offer free T-shirts or admissions to whoever is mayor of your location. Give an incentive for others to want to join in the fun.
  3. Help them scratch off their bucket lists. On Foursquare, users can add tips or to-do lists at each location to tell others what’s fun about it. Why not already be there giving your future tourists reasons to come visit? If someone sees that their friend has visited an historical destination, but this friend has written that certain exhibits were fun or interesting in some way, that person is more than likely going to be more interested than just hearing about the historical destination from its Web site. After all, word of mouth is the best advertising.

Foursquare is still in an infant phase for most, so it will be interesting to see how far it goes. However, it isn’t hard to believe that this new social media platform will be a helpful tool for marketing, just as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube have been.

Trust us, it’s worth your while to at least check in to the possibilities of this platform.

Jessica Swink is a freelance writer specializing in articles about social media for tourism and search engine optimization.

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