Using Foursquare’s New Advertising Platform to Market Your Business

By Brian Carey

2 min read

Foursquare recently added an advertising platform to its suite of tools available to businesses. The platform enables the more than 1.4 million companies registered with the social media site to run location-based ads. These ads are much more visible to Foursquare’s users than the default (yet searchable) business listings in the site’s database.

The new platform promises to be an effective means for many fixed-location businesses, such as restaurants and bricks-and-mortar stores, to boost top-line sales. (Online retailers that serve customers via mail-order are likely better off advertising elsewhere.)

Here’s how to get the most out of Foursquare’s ads.

1. Use the platform as a cost-effective means of advertising. You won’t pay one penny for a Foursquare advertisement unless somebody acts on your ad, either by clicking on it or checking in at your location. In other words, you’re charged only for ads that generate sincere interest. This is a more cost-effective means of advertising than television, newspaper, or radio, for which you pay full price no matter how many (or few) people respond. Right now, cost per action ranges only in the $1 to $2 range, so there’s potential for significant ROI. However, it should be noted, Foursquare advertising is based on a bid system.

2. Use the platform to drive sales during slow times. Let’s say you own a restaurant that doesn’t do much business on Mondays. That would be a great day to run a Foursquare ad. People who are nearby and searching Foursquare for a place to eat may see your ad and become customers.

3. Use the platform to advertise your product during specific check-ins. Captain Morgan was one of the first companies to use Foursquare advertising. The company cleverly ran an ad promoting its rum whenever someone checked in at a bar or restaurant. The ad prompted people to order to order a “Captain and ginger,” “a Captain mojito,” or “a Captain and cola.”

4. Use the platform to gauge the effectiveness of your advertising. As noted previously (see #1), you only get charged for an ad when people respond. This not only controls your costs, but also gives you the opportunity to verify the effectiveness — or lack thereof — of your advertising campaign. For example, if an ad nets a 50 percent check-in rate among the people who view it, you may conclude that it’s driving foot traffic and want to keep running it.

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