It would be fair to say that Foursquare has experienced something of a slump in popularity in recent months as the interest surrounding its initial release has ebbed away. However an updated version (Foursquare 3.0), released last week, has propelled the application back into the consciousness of social media users. Should public relations practitioners be taking the application more seriously as its popularity begins to grow?
Foursquare is a social networking service which allows users to check-in at locations using smartphones, sharing information with friends through Facebook and Twitter. One of the main aims of the application is to encourage users to explore their surroundings; recommendations from friends and other users enable the discovery of venues and organisations which may have otherwise been bypassed.
As well as allowing users to check-in at physical locations, Foursquare can also be used to promote brands. Hundreds of brands have 'brand pages' to which users can sign up to receive tips and customised information. From a public relations perspective this provides a unique way to connect and interact with customers and fans.
Users who connect with Windows Live Photo Gallery are challenged to find the best location in their city to take pictures, and share the information with others through Foursquare. The application enables fans and customers to pursue their interest in photography, and encourages them to use Windows Live Photo Gallery to edit, organise and share the photographs that they have taken. Through their brand page Windows Live Photo Gallery are collecting like-minded people, creating a network surrounding their brand; providing the opportunity for brand monitoring and promotion.
Dennis Crowley – co-founder of Foursquare
Another example of brands using Foursquare is Louis Vuitton, who use the application to provide fans with tips and information for attractions around London. Users can comment and 'like' the information posted by the brand, providing Louis Vuitton with information on locations frequented by their fans and customers: information which could be exploited by the forward thinking practitioner. Louis Vuitton could, for example, create a 'buzz' by offering an exclusive reward to the user who checks-in to certain locations at specific times throughout the day. An opportunity to use digital media to generate coverage in traditional media outlets.
Foursquare could also be seamlessly incorporated into a PR event, adding a fun and interactive dimension. This could include, for example, special offers for visitors who check in at certain areas of the event.
Although it would appear that Foursquare still has some work to do in capturing the imagination of British users, it seems that an application which provides such potential for creativity, and customer interaction, should not be ignored by PR practitioners.