How the New foursquare is Better for Brand Reach & Engagement

by: @adambauer

The new foursquare version 5.0 arrived on the iPhone in the early morning of June 7, 2012 EST and later in the day on Android.  I was anxiously awaiting the release after buzz and leaks were made earlier about a new version being released in 2012.  After installing version 5.0 on my iPhone, I was incredibly happy to discover that the UX changes made by the foursquare team led by @dens, @arainert, and @mari18 have made the app much more playful, sticky to use, and visually engaging.

Since the release this past Thursday, I have already started engaging with more brands and music artists through their lists and tips than I have since becoming a foursquare user a few years ago.  I get to discover and engage with these brands and bands much easier now because I am virally exposed to them through my friends foursquare activity that is now broadcast to me in the new foursquare 5.0 activity stream.

While all of these updates are great for consumers, the updates are even greater for brands who can increase reach and engagement with foursquare users worldwide and this is how:

1.  The Activity Stream is all new, and this is great for brand viral reach and engagement

The newly designed activity stream shows all of your friends’ activities within the foursquare ecosystem.  Before the update, you could only see where your friends had most recently checked-in.  You didn’t know when someone followed a list, or followed a brand, or when a brand left a Tip.  Now you see a historical stream of every activity one of your friends or brands you follow completes.  This includes every time a friend or brand:

  • Checks-in
  • Follows a List
  • Creates a List
  • Adds a Tip
  • Adds a Comment
  • Becomes Friends with someone new
  • Follows a Brand

Why is this great for brands?

The new activity stream delivers both increased brand exposure and viral engagement possibilities for brands who deliver compelling foursquare Lists and Tips through their Brand Page.

This is an enormous new opportunity for brands who understand how to create and deliver compelling foursquare lists and tips.

Every time a user follows a brand page, follows a list, or completes a brand tip, the brand name and logo appears in the Activity Stream of every friend of that user….increasing brand impressions and creating a new opportunity for engagement and exposure to an exponentially large number of new consumers.

Here are two examples of brand exposure in foursquare 5.0.  GQ created a list that appeared in my activity stream because I follow Alex Rainert in foursquare and he saved this list.  I thought the list was valuable to me, so I started following it too.

After I followed the GQ list, all of my friends were able to see that I started following the “GQ’s Best 10 Restaurants in New York 2012 List”.  I monitored my activity stream to see what would happen and I was happy to observe several of my friends following the list after I did.  GQ was able to reach me and a multiple of my friends and their friends through creating and posting this valuable list.


I also follow the Scion iQ City brand page.  This brand created a new tip and published it on Friday, June 8th.  When the tip was published, it appeared in my activity stream.  I took a further step and “loved” the tip by pressing the heart icon next to the tip.  After “loving” the tip, all of my friends saw that I loved the tip on their activity stream and were exposed to the Scion iQ City brand.

These are just two examples, but as you can see, the new foursquare design now delivers incredible brand viral reach through its activity stream in the same manner that Facebook and Twitter delivers brand viral reach through their respectable Wall and Tweet stream.  This creates enormous opportunities for brands, especially brands who have a goal of reaching influential, tastemaking early adopters around the world.

(**I think there are other opportunities for foursquare to integrate brands into their activity stream around the concept of native advertising (see more about this here from @dherman76), but I’ll write about that at a later date in another post.)


2. Explore has improved + Every Venue Check-in is visible in the activity stream = Increased exposure for franchise branded venues

The new Explore functionality makes it easier for consumers to find and discover places to eat, drink, shop, stay, etc.  Within the Explore feature, users can receive suggested places to go by entering in a word to search for (eg. “lunch”) or based on pre-programmed categories of:

  • *  Top Picks
  • *  Specials
  • *  Food
  • *  Sights
  • *  Nightlife
  • *  Arts
  • *  Coffee
  • *  Shopping
  • *  Trending


Why is this good for branded franchises?

Venues’ names will now be appearing much more through Explore and the activity stream and reach more potential customers in the foursquare ecosystem.  Branded franchises can claim all of their venues, and update all of the venue’s operational information and venue tags so these venues will be seen by more potential customers in the foursquare ecosystem…increasing the marketing impact of your brand.

Brands also need to fully grasp that not only are 20 Million foursquare users actively checking in on the foursquare app every day, but the foursquare places database powers over 20,000 other location based apps showing nearby venues and to run their app’s check-ins.  These include Instagram, Soundtracking, Foodspotting, and many more.  This means that tens of millions of consumers in the U.S. are interacting with your venue listings daily.


If you are a franchise retail company with hundreds or even thousands of venues it is very important that your organization claim all of your venues and update them with a harmonious and uniform name structure and have all of this information correct:
a.  Address
b.  Phone Number
c.  Website address
d.  Twitter handle
e.  Facebook page
f.   Venue hours
g.  Descriptive tags of the products or services your venue sells

The new version of foursquare displays your venue’s operational information front and center and this makes it very easy for customers to call your venue, see your venue’s hours of operation, get directions, and see the menu (if it’s a restaurant).


Given all of these changes, and how much more your venues’ information is exposed to foursquare users and other location based mobile app users, franchise brands have a BIG CHALLENGE to eliminate duplicate venues and venue listing inaccuracies.

Inaccurate and duplicate foursquare venue listings are shared even more through foursquare’s new viral activity stream and this has the following effects on your brand –

  • *  Makes your correct physical venue locations difficult to find
  • *  Your brand loses word of mouth marketing opportunities
  • *  Damages your brand image
  • *  Decreases your marketing reach and effectiveness
  • *  Your brand loses opportunities to engage with customers at their time of  point-of-sale decision making

Brands and franchises can face this challenge by completing the following steps:

  1. Claim your venues in foursquare
  2. Eliminate all duplicate venues
  3. Update all incorrect venue information


SUMMARY: foursquare v5.0 for Brands and Franchises

Brands, you have an incredible opportunity to:

  • *  Reach influential consumers and their friends
  • *  Reach consumers during their point of sale decision making process

To do this, create new and compelling foursquare lists and tips + use all social media outlets to obtain more followers of your foursquare brand page.

If you are a brand page that already has thousands or hundreds of thousands of foursquare brand page followers, you are in a great  position to increase brand reach and engagement through the new activity stream by posting new valuable tips.

If you are a franchise brand with hundreds or thousands of retail locations, claim your venues, add tags to make them appear in more foursquare Explore searches, and simultaneously check your venue listings and update them so all data is complete and correct for each and every one of your venues.

If you are a brand manager or agency who would like more insight on receiving greater reach and engagement for your brand with foursquare users, please contact me via email or direct message below:


Adam Bauer is a co-founder of Location Star, a location-based brand marketing company.  One of Location Star’s platform and services helps brands create, stage, and more efficiently deliver foursquare Tips and Lists + optimize and manage their worldwide venues to maximize accurate exposure and attract more customers.  Adam has delivered integrated marketing strategies for Fortune 500 brands over the last nine years with his marketing agency, Big Sky Media.