New Foursquare Features Turn Novelty into Utility

Foursquare presents a new toolkit to marketers

This week, Foursquare made another move toward bridging users’ social lives with their digital presences with the release of Foursquare 3.0, a new version that includes a more usable interface, a recommendation engine, and even a partnership with American Express to provide discounts to cardholders. Foursquare, celebrating just its second year of existence this month, has grown to 7.5 million users, including 7 million that have joined since last year’s South by Southwest Event. Prior to this update, however, Foursquare’s value proposition was more novel than useful, both for consumers and for businesses. While a location-based social “check-in” game has been able to hold users’ attention thus far, while simultaneously providing some benefits for participating marketers, Foursquare 3.0 presents an entirely new set of tools for organizations to build and interact with their user bases.

Recommendations

Foursquare has always claimed to make cities easier to navigate; however, socially-grounded recommendations might finally achieve the original goal of the platform. A robust recommendations feature allows users to filter locations and brands by food, coffee, nightlife, shops, and entertainment, making the interface more usable for consumers. Organizations and brands looking to take advantage of Foursquare’s algorithm should work to actively present a value proposition to consumers and be sure to have an optimized profile within their specific verticals. Increasingly, users will begin to see certain places and brands move to the top of lists, burying those that have failed to implement a concrete strategy.

Partnership with American Express

This functionality is currently only available as a pilot program in Austin, TX; however, the goal of the initiative is to build a partnership between organizations and consumers who both use American Express and Foursquare. Consumers in Austin who use their American Express card at one of 60 participating merchants. Users who link their credit card and Foursquare account will qualify for a “spend $5, save $5″ credit that its automatically applied to their account. Details for expansion are still vague and the pilot is set to run only from March 11 to March 15; however, success with this program could have tremendous effects on the future of geo-location purchasing.

These changes in Foursquare’s platform and functionality are significant and provide an opportunity for marketers to develop enhanced geo-location strategies and optimize their brands or locations for engagement with consumers. The tremendous growth opportunity in mobile marketing should work in conjunction with these changes to change the way national organizations look at local and direct consumer marketing, giving innovative organizations an entirely new toolkit to engage their consumer base through digital channels.

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