For this week’s social media assignment I checked out Foursquare and downloaded a free QR Code app to learn about location-based services (LBS). The blog post by Mike Lewis sums it up best with his tried and true acronym ‘C-H-E-C-K-I-N’ based on Carmine Gallo’s The Power of Foursquare: Connect with Your Brand, Harness New Fans, Engage Your Followers, Create Rewards, Knock-Out the Competition, Incentivize Your Customers and Never Stop Entertaining.
Single Biggest Learning from Foursquare
Using Foursquare I instantly found a list of local dining, tourism, and shopping and entertainment venues along with comments from others who have visited these businesses. I even had an option to ‘check-in’ with Facebook to see where my friends had visited. It is a great tool to explore any city. I was surprised to see what I had been missing out on.
After reviewing the features of Foursquare I can see how PR pros can use it as an affordable and scalable tool to promote their B2C retail clients. Integrating Foursquare with a client’s website and promoting it on Twitter and Facebook can help you connect with relevant audiences and boost your following.
Adding Foursquare to Your PR Plan
PR pros can harness the tips and special information found on Foursquare to promote a client’s business in several ways:
- Connect With Your Brand – Creating a Foursquare page to promote a company’s brand with a banner, description and link to client website, Twitter and Facebook accounts enables you to ‘check-in’ and share updates with your audience. Encouraging your followers to complete the ‘Leave Tips’ feature when they ‘check-in’ lets them share their positive and negative feedback. PR can ‘leave tips’ about other local businesses to position your client as an authority on a subject and raise brand awareness with relevant customers visiting similar locations. Promoting your brand without a hard marketing sell can build community for your client.
- Harness New Fans – Once your followers ‘check-in’ to a location, it can be shared with their friends on Foursquare and Facebook as well as their Twitter followers. This can influence new fans to do the same based on a friend’s recommendations. This is a great way for PR to reach new audiences.
- Engage Your Followers – When a customer checks into Foursquare and clicks on a venue they see information about the business along with who the ‘mayor’ is – a loyal customer who has the most ‘check-ins’ in the last 60 days. This message is shared with everyone who clicks on your business name and can be used to engage your followers and build trust in your business. PR pros can use Foursquare’s free analytics to learn more about their customers and target offers and rewards.
Do QR Codes Work?
While I’ve always thought the QR Code is a great way to engage smartphone users this was my first time trying it. I opted to download a free app for my iPhone. While there are lots of QR Code apps to choose from, both paid and free, it would be nice if there was an app that was compatible across all platforms including iOS, Android and Blackberry.
Unfortunately I did not have a lot of success using my QR Code app. My efforts to scan the QR Code on my turkey bacon product packaging didn’t work. Next, I scanned a magazine ad QR Code for Buff, a snowboarding headwear manufacturer, but it took me to the company’s European website instead of the North American one so the information wasn’t that useful to me. I finally found success scanning the QR Code for a Royal Distributing ad. At first the image was too small but with a little effort I was able to focus in and scan the code. I was excited to link directly to an informational company YouTube video.
Based on my experience I think the biggest challenge for PR pros endorsing QR Codes is helping businesses better use them to promote their venue, event or brand. In my case, I only had success 1 out of 3 times. It took more effort to scan the QR Code than the value I got in return. As a consumer I didn’t have a great experience but I am willing to try it again.