We've said it before and we'll say it again...you need to urge people to check in at your locations using location-based social media services. Yes, you will get some check-ins if you don't, but the volume and quality will be greater if you do. This is true everywhere but even more relevant for small businesses running brick-and-mortar establishments in rural areas. Check-in services are still relatively new and many rural areas are behind the game in these types of things. With a little awareness and activity amongst friends, the ability to take advantage of these services from a marketing perspective is much greater. Aside from putting a sign on your front door asking for check-ins, one of the easiest ways to get people to participate is to have a special offer.
Creating Your First Offer
First things first, you must have already claimed your listing on Foursquare. If you have not already done that, here's how. Once you are logged into your account click the Manager Tools tab at the top of the screen. Once you are here there will be 2 sections, Venues and Campaigns. Click on the campaigns tab and then the big green Start a Campaign button, you will then be urged to add a special. There are several specials you can offer:
- Swarm Special - if a set number of people check in at once, everyone will get a discount on something.
- Friend's Special - If you check in with a couple of friends, you'll each get a special.
- Flash Special - The first set number of people that check in after a certain time or day get a discount.
- Newbie Special - Allow a first time check in to get a special.
- Check-in Special - Anyone that checks in can take advantage of a special.
- Loyalty Special - Allow people that check in more frequently to get a special.
- Mayor Special - Only the mayor of the venue gets a special when he/she checks in.
After choosing the type of special you want to offer, you'll be able to set the specifics of that offer. For example, if you are offering a swarm special you will be asked to input the number of people that are required to unlock the special and what the maximum amount of unlocks will be allowed.
After setting the parameters of your special you will describe the special via a short text description. You will be limited to 200 characters here, so make your description short and to the point. Something like: Get 10% off of items in the gift shop with your stay! There is no need to list the check in requirements, as that was taken care of in the previous step.
Your final step of the campaign is to add the fine print, if any. You are again limited to 200 characters here and you are not able to add links that would link to an extensive terms and conditions page.
Your Special Has Been Created
That's all you have to do! If you are urging people to check in at the door you may want to let them know you have a special. As a business owner, I understand you don't want to give everyone a discount. When it comes to check in services, think of these discounts as going towards your marketing budget. These people are advertising for you by letting all of their friends know where they are checking in. People listen to their friends recommendations before they listen to a billboard.
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