Flash Crowds (Foursquare)

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With over 10 million subscribing customers, foursquare, the location-based social networking site, has helped many businesses draw crowds, promote exclusive events, and spread the word to new customers.

How does Foursquare work?

Foursquare encourages its subscribers to check in at locations like restaurants,concerts, or other venues by sending a text message or using a mobile phone app. The user has the choice of posting these check-ins on Twitter or Facebook, thus enabling them to tell their friends where they are and get recommendations for things to do nearby. They can also post tips and recommendations like where to find the best parking and what to order off the menu.The more a user checks in, the more points they earn toward special promotions and coupons.

Badges & flash crowds

Points earned from each check in allows the user to create badges for themselves and for the businesses they frequent. Swarm Badges are issued for a business that have 50 or more people checking in at the same time. Super Swarm Badges are given for 250 or more people. Many business have held successful events or flash crowds around Swarm Badges thus creating a feeling of exclusivity with its customers. Collecting badges as has become an obsession for some people who like to show off their solidarity toward a business or sports team.

So how does a business owner create the buzz for a successful flash crowd event or new marketing campaign?  Here are few tips to follow:

  • Tweet or post status updates on Facebook a week or so before the event or campaign. Provide your clients and customers with unique hash tags like #shopherenow to increase visibility and extend the reach beyond your client base.
  • Encourage your customers to communicate with each other and keep the energy going by asking what they plan to eat at your restaurant or wear to your event. Ask them what it they like most about shopping at your place of business. Promoters of conferences have used foursquare and Twitter to send instant messages to their attendees and provide common sense tips like the password for the WiFi system or how to buy tickets for workshops.
  • Offer exclusive deals and unique opportunities to the first few people who respond to your tweets and foursquare messages. Do this two or three times the week before your event or product launch to get people excited and to see how well your messages are received. Instant feedback will allow you to keep the momentum going or tweak your messages.
  • Get your Badges in order – Communicate with foursquare about your event (they might even help promote it!) and the type of badges and discounts you plan to offer your customers.
  • Act like a true flash mob – During the event, notify your customers that they have earned their badges and encourage them to send out tweets and update Facebook to spread the word. The word-of-mouth momentum will keep the energy up for your campaign and encourage new people to check out the buzz.

By using the power of social networking technology like Foursquare, Twitter and Facebook, any business owner can create buzz for their event or marketing campaign with just a few clicks of the mouse and well-placed words.

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