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Foursquare for Kenyan Businesses

Foursquare for Kenyan Businesses

While I was researching on this topic, I Googled ‘Foursquare in Kenya” and the top ranking result was “Foursquare Church of Kenya”, I swear. I immediately posted it on Twitter and it got a couple of LMAOs and WTFs. But whether you find this funny or strange or both, it’s a telling finding because other than this interestingly named church,  nothing else stands out in terms of Kenyan Businesses and in particular Hotels and Restaurants that are utilizing Foursquare. Having said that, this may not necessarily be a problem with the businesses using Foursquare but rather with Foursquare itself and its search issues as Rae Hoffman of Outspoken Media pointed out in this incredible post earlier this year.

Back to Kenya, a few weeks back, I chanced upon a tweet by @Mkaigwa as he checked into Nairobi Java House via Foursquare. I found this quite interesting especially since I was in a meeting with a potential client that I was pitching to who had mentioned running a contest for the many fans of her High End establishment.

What is Foursquare?

Foursquare is a Location Based Tool that allows you to encourage people to visit your restaurant and actually monitor how many come through while encouraging friendly competition among your frequent and even not so frequent customers. For starters, you have to claim your premises on Foursquare and anybody who then physically checks into your restaurant can just as easily and quickly using their iPhones, Phones, Blackberrys or Androids check-in on Foursquare at your venue. This will let his/her friends on Twitter or Facebook to also know where they are. Note, they can only check in while at your premises hence the definition as Location Based Tool.

What it Means for Your Business?

As a location based tool, businesses can use to it to encourage people to frequent their premises through offering Foursquare specials to your frequent flier customers without the hassle of physically trying to keep track on who your loyal customers are/could be. According to the Foursquare Website –

As a business owner, you can use foursquare to engage your increasingly mobile customers with foursquare “Specials,” which are  discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check in on foursquare at your venue.  Don’t forget to show extra love to your venue’s Mayor!  Additionally, if you offer foursquare Specials to your customers, you will be able to track how your venue is performing over time thanks to our robust set of venue analytics —for free!

That sounds like a Goldmine to me but first, let’s go through the terminology: when people check in on Foursquare while at your venue which is Geotagged once claimed, you can develop friendly competition among customers in around checking in and reward them with Foursquare specials based on the frequency of their check-ins. For most businesses especially restaurants, there are people who without wearing a badge on their sleeves are in essence your stalwart supporters/customers. Whenever they want to go out or recommend a place to go eat out, your restaurant is their first choice. Depending on their preferences be it after hours, every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday or during lunch hours, or every fortnight, these customers never fail to come through and have a good time at your restaurant. The question now becomes, what can you do for them? The following are specials that Foursquare will enable you to offer your biggest customers:

  • Mayor Specials: Unlocked only by the Mayor of your venue. The Mayor your single most loyal customer – the one who has checked in the most in the last x number of days. Those deemed as mayors by Foursquare can enjoy a select meal for free. The Mayor badges are as shown in the picture above…
  • Check-in Specials: unlocked when a user checks in to your venue a certain number of times. (“Foursquare says you’ve been here 10 times?  That’s a free drink for you!”)
  • Frequency-based Specials: are unlocked every X check-ins. (“Foursquare users get 20% off any entree every 5th check-in!”
  • Wildcard Specials: always unlocked, but your staff has to verify some extra conditions before awarding the Special.  (“Show us your foursquare Swarm badge and get a free drink!”)

When people have checked in at your venue, this is what will appear on your Restaurants profile:

Foursquare for Kenyan Businesses

Nairobi Java House - Foursquare Page

If an individual has checked in a number of times and is deemed the mayor of the premises, this is how it appears on their profiles –

Marks Profile

Marks Profile

Interesting thing is the how people compete to be mayors of the various premises around the world. I am not sure whether it has started in Kenya but it is coming. We eat out anyway and being mayor of some nice restaurant we are regulars at would feel good the privileges aside.

Additional Benefits

Recommendations are a big part of Foursquare. Once people check-in to a venue, depending on what they encounter, they can write some good recommendations for other visitors to acquaint themselves with. For instance, I never bother with these meals that have fancy names I cannot pronounce but one thing is for sure, I miss out on a lot when it comes to eating a fine meal. One case in point is a meal I had a Fortnight ago at Brew Bistro & Lounge. I could hardly pronounce the name but that turned out to be the best meal I have ever had. The best I can do is recommending it to first timers there who are lost on what to order via the Foursquare under tips. You can also tell people the best time to frequent a restaurant based on Traffic Jams, Traffic in the Restaurant – Jam-packed on Fridays etc. You can recommend the drinks people must try, the theme night people should not miss – like the Brew Bistro theme nights etc. This will also be a review for the restaurant in question because you will be able to know at a glance what the people who have been there think of it.

Lastly, Foursquare through its real-time stats table will give you business actionable business intelligence that you can use to craft strategies around your weakest links. These stats include:

  • most recent visitors
  • most frequent visitors
  • the time of day people check in
  • total number of unique visitors
  • histogram of check-ins per day
  • gender breakdown of customers
  • portion of foursquare check-ins broadcast to Twitter and Facebook

So if you are a business owner, start thinking along these lines. If you are regular at a particular restaurant/pub, ask the manager whether they have a Foursquare account because you would like to be Mayor. If you have a friend who owns a restaurant or any other business, forward this to them. If you have a business and are wondering what this could mean for you, contact me!

Otherwise, let me in on your thoughts in the comment section below.