Amazon, Facebook, Google, Foursqaure??? Three of those companies are well known technology giants who have not only introduced us to some of today’s most world changing technologies, but continue to diversify their portfolio of tools in order to hedge their tech investments, ensuring growth. Surprisingly, while not as well known or as large as the others listed, Foursqaure is also hedging its bets in the technology world through acquisitions and new developments. Additionally, Foursqaure has taken an approach that satisfies the needs of both businesses and consumers.
As customer preference moves further away from traditional brick and mortar retail and closer to online eCommerce shopping, many restaurant and store owners are desperately seeking any advantage they can harness to drive foot traffic and revenue in store. Foursquare, traditionally known for allowing consumers to “check-in” to various locations to receive badges and discounts, is looking to introduce tools aimed at improving the operations of business and store owners. Just this past month, Foursqaure announced plans to develop and release an analytics dashboard aimed at helping businesses to better understand their customers. At the heart of the dashboard lies data that is collected from Foursquare’s location-based services. The data is collected from Foursquare’s existing database of locations that powers over 100,000 apps, including Snapchat. This data can then be used to help store and restaurant owners better understand foot traffic patterns and trends and segment this data by age, gender, new vs. returning customers, etc. This data is a gold mine for businesses, as it allows them to develop marketing and promotional strategies that specifically target their ideal customer base. In addition, it further helps businesses target consumers with the right product / marketing effort at the right time in the customer journey to improve close rates and drive revenue. Foursquare has gone beyond the capabilities of traditional analytics dashboards by providing companies the ability to compare their metrics to their competitors as well as the broader industry standards. It’s rare that companies are able to access information about their competition, but because Foursqaure owns most location based application data, it gives companies a great opportunity to put a stake in the sand and better understand the strengths and weaknesses of their business.
On the consumer side, Foursqaure owns Swarm. Swarm is where the check-in ability that used to be part of Foursquare is now housed. There are some great benefits that have been built into Swarm that allow users to really engage with the app. Swarm has instilled a concept of competition into their application that allows users to compete with friends to check-in to more places, earn more and newer badges, and check-in to the same places the most times. Badges are earned when users complete a task through the check-in capability, check-in to an airport 5 times to earn a flying badge for example. Badges are a great concept to encourage use of the app. Although the consumer isn’t receiving a tangible reward, psychologically the reward makes them feel like they have accomplished something. The friendly dose of competition to collect more and different badges than your friends also furthers the use of the application. Additionally, Swarm helps to drive customer loyalty through the use of their “mayor” tool. The person who checks-in the most to particular location becomes the mayor. Their name and profile are visible to everyone who visits that location. By encouraging consumers to compete for the title of mayor, Swarm helps businesses drive customer loyalty and foot traffic. Swarm can also be used to track past experiences at restaurants to help consumers remember which dishes and locations were their favorites. This review system also applies to other customer’s check-ins. Customers visiting a new restaurant for the first time can see who has checked-in recently and read reviews of the foods they recommend and foods to avoid on the menu. The major plus to Swarm is that as a customer goes about collecting check-ins, they become available to receive perks in the form of coupons and giveaways at their favorite places. This aspect furthers the brand relationship and encourages consumers to continue to use the app and visit businesses in the hopes of getting more perks.
Foursqaure and Swarm have been around for a long time, but it has only been recently that the company made a strategic shift back to its roots. The retooling of Swarm to move away from an attempt to be a social utility tool that users could use to meetup, to an app again focused on competition and the badge reward system was only put in place at the end of 2016. Early signs of success have been promising as Swarm recently had its 10 billionth check in, but it will be interesting to see if Swarm can continue to innovate fast enough to win over users who had left the platform and spark growth.