i am a good idea.

Good Idea: 8 Foursquare Promotion Ideas for Businesses

Yesterday, I posted a directory of Columbus, Ohio businesses offering Foursquare promotions… it’s a pretty short list. I’ve written before about some of the reasons that businesses – and individuals – should consider using Foursquare, but I get the feeling that even if business owners can see the benefit, they might be unsure of what type of special they should offer. Oh, and they might not know this: it’s FREE for you to set up a promotion. FREE. FREEEEEEE!


Since Foursquare is flexible about what KIND of “deal” you can offer, you have a great opportunity to be creative. Do note, though, that Foursquare limits these promotions to, in their words, “places where people meet, socialize and linger. Think: cafes, bars, restaurants, coffee shops, museums, theaters, etc. While we love hardware stores and nail salons, we’re just not ready for you quite yet – but stay tuned!” So… your sign shop probably can’t have a Foursquare deal right now “officially.” But, of course, there’s nothing stopping you from putting up a sign in your shop or a banner on your website alerting customers of your special.

Here are a few of the most commonly used Foursquare promotion types – and a few not-so-common ones, too. You can substitute “free” for “% off” or “BOGO” or something similar if “free” doesn’t make sense for your business. Hell, you can substitute “% off” for “free foot massage with your first cocktail” if you want. Seriously, creative is good. Though the foot massage is probably not sanitary…

  • Like a loyalty card. “Free x for every x number of checkins.” This is the way Impero Coffee is currently using Foursquare.
  • As a bonus or upgrade. “Free x everytime you checkin on Foursquare.” Think: free valet or free coatcheck. I’m not suggesting you bankrupt yourself by giving away free steak every day.
  • As a way to boost foot traffic on slow days. “40% off on Wednesdays when you check in on Foursquare!”
  • As an incentive to first-time visitors. “Free x the first time you checkin.” This is the way Columbus Qdoba is currently using Foursquare. (Though it’s not – as you can see- actually set up through the Foursquare site.)
  • As an incentive for repeat visitors. “The Mayor (the person with the most checkins in the last 3 month period) gets free x.” This is the way (one of two ways!) that The Top Steakhouse is currently using Foursquare.
  • As an incentive for bringing friends. “Free x (appetizer?) if you checkin with more than 3 people.” No local businesses are doing this. You want to be the first?
  • As a vehicle to give out something unique. “Limited edition x (sticker? chef’s special?) if you checkin on Foursquare!” This is (kind of) how BalletMet is currently using Foursquare.
  • As an added value for your sponsors. Having a conference? Offer attendees the ability to check in at each of your sponsor’s businesses to get half off their admission fee. (Omgz – Trade Secretz spoiler alert!!1!1) In media? Offer swag if people check-in at the place of your live remote, your #1 advertiser, etc. (I’m working on this one at QFM ;])

  • foursquare-promotions-lolcheryl

    Can you think of a unique Foursquare promotion that YOU, or your favorite local biz, could offer? Share it in the comments!

17 Responses to “Good Idea: 8 Foursquare Promotion Ideas for Businesses”

  1. Jacob Burke says:

    I manage the Foursquare business listing for a restaurant in downtown Elmira. We offer a free coffee for the mayor and are working on other promotions to add once the verification process is complete. It is a great way to get people talking about the business and every opportunity for free advertising is great.

  2. Cheryl: I dig the list of ideas you provided! Now if I can just get my favorite coffee place to participate and comp me a cup of coffee :-)

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  4. Jim Troth says:

    I create locations where I am conducting home inspections and then check into them as a way to stay top of mind in those who see my Facebook information.

  5. Cheryl says:

    Jim – interesting. So you create people’s homes on Foursquare? Do you ask for their permission? Possible privacy concern?

  6. Jim Troth says:

    I do not put the actual address just the area. For example the location can be named “Home Inspection Dublin Area”.

  7. Cheryl says:

    Makes sense. Interesting idea! :)

  8. Jim Troth says:

    Typically people use me only once or twice (if the house was not purchased)

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