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Say Hello to Foursquare 3.0

Foursquare, the popular socially-aware check-in game has moved to version 3.0 this week, and that means there are loads of cool new features to keep both users and merchants happy. If you haven't investigated Foursquare as an inbound marketing platform, and certainly if you've never tried the app out for yourself, now's the time!

If you haven't tried it out yet, here's a basic run-down. Foursquare is a website and mobile application that serves as a database of various merchants, restaurants, retailers and other types of businesses that are found using GPS. Say for instance you're currently in San Francisco, California - Foursquare will show you all of the locations around you and then as you visit them you can "check-in," which earns you points. Earn enough points and check into a location enough times and you can become the "Mayor" of that location. It's surprisingly addicting, but more importantly it's a great way for people to discover new places to spend their time and money!

Foursquare also has functionality that lets users leave reviews (or tips) about a particular location. If you stopped into a new restaurant and had a great sandwich for the first time, leave a tip about it and other people who visit can learn about it too! Finally, merchants have the ability to reward their loyal customers by creating special offers to entice visitors. When a Foursquare user loads the service they can even see which of the various businesses around them is listing offers, which can certainly sway their decision when it comes to choosing a restaurant to stop and have lunch, or which retailer to visit when they're making that next purchase.

What's New for Users With Foursquare 3.0

Obviously we like to talk about small businesses here and provide folks working at a small business tools to help reach new customers. With that said, we also love to use a lot of the services we talk about from a consumer standpoint, so I'm going to talk a bit about what's exciting to me in the new 3.0 update (after all, one of the best ways to understand how to use these services effectively is by using them yourself).

The coolest new feature available in Foursquare 3.0 is the "Explore" functionality. With it, you can quickly search for whatever it is you're looking for, say "gift shop" for example, and receive back a list of the shops around you. That's sort of obvious, but where Foursquare Explore really shines is that these results are sifted through and modified based on your Foursquare friends' activities. If I'm friends with Jamie and she's left a positive review for Gary's Great Gift Shop, that search result will be heavily favored in the list of results. Other aspects Foursquare factors into the list of returned retailers are time of day, day of the week, frequency of check-ins and even places you've been with friends in the past. Ultimately the idea is that Foursquare Explore will custom-tailor experiences to the user, instead of the user having to guess what they'll like or dislike.

What's new for Merchants With Foursquare 3.0

The biggest change for merchants are the new Foursquare Special types. A special is simply an offer that you can give to people that check-in or interact with your venue on Foursquare. The new special types include:

  • Check-in Specials
    These are specials offered when someone checks in normally.
  • Friend Specials
    These are specials offered when a visitor checks in while interacting with a user on their friends list.
  • Flash Specials
    These are quick, usually time-delimited specials. For example, a merchant could set up a special in which the first 10 customers to visit after 8:00AM get 10% off of their order price.
  • Swarm Specials
    Swarm specials are based on the number of people checked in to a location at any one given time. For instance, a restaurant could say if 50 people are checked in at once, desserts are half-price.
  • Newbie Specials
    A newbie special is an offer for someone that's checking into a venue for the first time. This is a great way to attract new customers!
  • Mayor Specials
    The final two types are especially important. Firstly, a mayor special can be offered to the mayor of your location. This is a great way to encourage customer loyalty. If you have a good mayor special people will want to be the mayor of your location, so they'll continue to return to it!
  • Loyalty Specials
    Since only one person can be the mayor of a location at any given time, Foursquare 3.0 also includes the ability for merchants to setup specials for their other loyal customers. Again, much like Mayor Specials above this is a great way to attract repeat customers!


With version 3.0, people using the Foursquare app can browse by specials offered in their location, so setting up specials is more important than ever! Have you, or are you considering using location-based services like Foursquare to attract new customers? Let us know some of the cool offers you've used and the protocol 80 team will be sure to stop in the next time we're in your neck of the woods!