How to Market with Foursquare When You’re Not a Brick and Mortar

If you have a virtual business or take clients while working from home, you might be wondering how in the heck Foursquare could help you. That’s understandable.

If you’re not familiar with the social network, Foursquare is a community where users alert businesses and their other social networks that they are arriving (known as “checking in”) to a public place. This organic promotional activity helps create buzz around local businesses and drives in-person group activity that social media is meant to spur. Businesses sometimes take advantage of this tool by offering discounts or free stuff for checking in, as well as even greater perks for the user who becomes its “Mayor”− a title achieved by checking in more often than any other user in a given time period.

Good stuff for the brick and mortar businesses around town. There are lots of ways for them to use this network to increase engagement with their patrons and grow their business. But how can a virtual business benefit from a network like this? Here are some ideas for marketing your business without being an actual venue on Foursquare:

  1. Create a brand pageThe great thing about Foursquare is that it understands that it’s not just local businesses that want to interact with their audience. So instead of only having “Venue” pages, which is the type of page you would have if your business had a physical location, you can create a “Brand” page. If you’re already a Foursquare user, you’ve seen huge company’s like MTV, Bravo, Playboy, Juicy Couture, etc. create Foursquare brand pages so they can grow awareness without a physical location. Visit Foursquare’s Brand info page, which further explains the benefits of having a presence as well as the step-by-step process to get started.
  2. Think about who your client is and where they’re checking in. You’re not the only service your client needs. So brainstorm and come up with a list of other businesses (who are not your direct competitors) that have common customers between you. Identifying those places will help you target your efforts and develop a plan of action as a brand on Foursquare, instead of just creating a page and hoping people will visit. (Hint: They won’t because they have absolutely no reason to!)
  3. Share Foursquare tips with those businesses’ visitors. When you open the venue page for a place you’re visiting (or a business I just told you to research), you’ll see any tips that people have left about their experience there. This is prime real estate to have your brand’s face and name show up when people are curious about others’ experiences at that venue. If you’re like myself and market to entrepreneurs, for instance, you might leave a branded tip at your favorite coffee shop to visit for a good caffeinated work space. That’s relevant information conveniently posted by your business, which that visitor may need to hire in the future.
  4. Make an offer! Who says you have to be subtle in marketing? People who use Foursquare are always looking for a deal, hoping that they’re visiting a participating business that gives free or discounted stuff upon check in. Try leaving your own special rate within a tip. If you design wedding invitations for instance, maybe you’ll leave a special for people that visit bridal shops in your area: 15% off invitation design for being a customer of XYZ Bridal Gowns. You’re targeting the special to people who will likely want to hear more!

Do you have any experience with marketing a virtual business on Foursquare? What are your tips and advice?