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Practical guide: Effective use of Foursquare for business

We have covered the benefits of your online presence for your business in numerous blog posts. In one of our latest articles, we discussed the importance of Foursquare for your business, in this article, we will give you a practical guide on how to use Foursqare for your business.

How to create specials and brand pages

If you’ve decided to build a presence on Foursquare, here’s a practical guide on how you can do it – dependent on having either a business location or only a brand.

Businesses with a location

Claim Your Venue

The first thing you need to do is to verify that you are the owner of a specific venue. To claim your venue, sign in to your account on and search for it (if you don’t have an account, you’ll need to register). In most cases, someone else will have already registered the venue and people will have already checked-in.

If not, then when you go to “Claim here”, you have to answer some questions to prove that you own the venue. You then have to provide your phone number and after that you’ll receive a call at that number. The Foursquare team will provide you with a 4-digit code which you should enter, and voila – you own the venue. If you can’t provide a phone number, you should enter your mailing address and you’ll receive the code by mail – in 2-3 weeks.

If you can’t find your venue, you need to create it first – and then proceed with the same steps as those mentioned above. Foursquare will suggest possible venues that you’re looking for, and at the end of that suggestion page you’ll find a link to add a new venue and fill out the requested information for it.


If you want to claim multiple locations, you can do it in a single request – by providing information for all the places.

Tip: If you’re new on Foursquare, you should know that your Foursquare account is dependent on your Twitter account and you must link them. The information in both accounts must match and you’ll get a Foursquare account with your Twitter name – like:

Foursquare Merchant Platform

When you’ve verified that you own the location, you can use the Merchant platform to create “specials”. Creating specials is easy – just follow the steps Foursquare gives you. The first thing to do is to choose the type of special that you want to create. The choice is from the following:

  • Swarm Special. The special is unlocked when a certain number of people check-in – and you define this number. For example, if 5 people check-in at the same time in a bakery, every one of them gets a free muffin. You can also set a limit for how frequently this special can be unlocked – you don’t want to give away too many muffins, right?!
  • Friends Special. You specify the number of friends who need to check-in together to receive their reward. For example if 4 friends check-in to your restaurant, they get a bottle of wine for free.
  • Flash Special. This special can help you to grow your business during slow times, so that you can keep a steady flow of customers all day long. The special gives a reward to the first few people who come to your business at certain time – you define the number of people and the hours.
  • Check-In Special. Well, this is the special you should be careful with. Every single check-in means a reward – so don’t go with it for a long period of time or very often. If you give a 10% discount for every check-in, in the end you might get a lot of customers, but perhaps no profit.
  • Newbie Special. The perfect way to attract new customers – the reward is received by people who check-in for the first time at your venue. Still, be careful with it for the same reasons as the Check-In Special.
  • Loyalty Special. Here we’re talking about a type of loyalty program. Users receive a reward after a certain number of visits, for example, for their fifth, seventh and ninth check-in, or perhaps at every fifth, seventh and ninth check-in – you determine the interval for the check-ins. In this way you’re encouraging them to come again and again. Just make sure you offer the users something they really want, so that they will want to come again.

Mayor Special. The mayor is one of your most loyal customers – reward her or him for this, for example, with a discount or free drink for every check-in. There can even be a competition between your loyal customers for the mayorship.

When you fill-in the needed information in the wizard, your special is ready to go live. Make sure you train your staff on how to recognize and reward Foursquare users – if they can’t, your special won’t make any sense. When you create a special, Foursquare will send you information for your employees, so that you can easily show and explain to them when a special is unlocked and when they must give a costumer a reward. You have statistics in your merchant platform to show how many times your special was unlocked and by who, so you have control over the distribution of rewards and can ensure there is no cheating.

Tip: Don’t create complicated specials. Create simple specials – users want to have fun, and there’s nothing interesting in a special that you can’t unlock. Make specials in a way that makes Foursquare users feel special – reward them with something that they can’t receive as a regular customer.

Foursquare dashboard

To access the dashboard you don’t need to create specials; it’s available after you’ve claimed the venue. There’s a lot of useful information:

  • Total and average check-ins
  • Social reach and time breakdown
  • Gender ratio and age breakdown

Top visitors in the last 60 days and most recent visitors – you can see their Twitter account as well, so you can follow them on Twitter and expand your communication with them.

Tip: Use the dashboard. It’s full of useful information – you can even use it in your overall marketing strategy when creating the profiles of your customers.

Foursquare pages

Tip: Use the dashboard. It’s full of useful information – you can even use it in your overall marketing strategy when creating the profiles of your customers.

Foursquare pages

When you’re creating a Foursquare page you must link it again with your business Twitter account – and you’ll get the URL for your page, like Then you’ll have to set up your page – you can provide your logo, you can fill-in information about your brand, you can provide links to your social media profiles. You can also leave tips for your followers – when they check-in to a location where you’ve left a tip, your tip will pop-up. Leave enticing tips for hot spots so your followers will be interested in them. This will make the connection with your customers stronger. Be creative!

Tip: Leave tips at places that your customers and potential customers tend to visit – this way you’ll be at the top of their mind and you can attract them to your brand.

In the end – remember that you’re running a business, so you need to profit from it. Monitor your Foursquare specials constantly, and change them if needed. Don’t give away too much on specials though; encourage loyalty without losing money – think about ROI. Effectiveness is one of the most important things in marketing, right?

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About Lili Petkova

Enthusiastic young online marketing professional. Fully engaged in the way how people communicate and react on different situations – both online, and offline. Living in Bulgaria - a country of contrast, where life is somewhere in the middle of Western countries and Asia. Love to travel, meet new cultures and friends. Blogging about how online tools, social networks and internet advertising can help small businesses to benefit from their online marketing.