How can Foursquare benefit B2B?

It’s pretty clear that Foursquare can be an effective marketing tool in the B2C world.

Starbucks, Whole Foods and Domino’s have harnessed a trend that seems tailor-made for retail (and food in particular) – check-ins mean prizes, and of course, greater loyalty too.

But what about the B2B environment?  Is Foursquare even relevant? Well, my take on this is, “sometimes”.  Here’s my rationale:

  • Foursquare is a location-based tool and that’s where it offers most value.  To Starbucks, location (being in or close to an outlet) is vital.  In the often-remote business world, location just isn’t such a big deal.
  • BUT Foursquare does offer is some very compelling data that can help B2Bs enhance their relationships with clients and prospects.  With over a million check-ins a day, Foursquare can tell us a lot about users’ daily movements, likes and dislikes, and behavioural trends. So if a key contact of yours is registered with Foursquare, you ought to be friends with them, and paying attention to those pesky check-in updates.
  • When location becomes important to B2Bs is when Foursquare comes into its own. So think about client meetings and events, such as trade shows.  Here is an opportunity.
  • Client meetings: Is your office listed on a venue on Foursquare? If not, sort it out! Makes it that bit quicker and easier for people to check in. If you’re expecting a visit from a client who you know is a Foursquare user, add a welcome message as a tip in the venue profile.
  • Trade shows: List your booth / suite as a Foursquare location and promote that in pre- and at-event marketing communications. Provide an incentive to check in (come and get a free report / USB / whatever).  Add any highlights as tips (“ask Paul about our latest demo – it’s very cool!” / “Don’t miss our keynote at 2.30pm in the main auditorium”). Use it to broadcast important stuff, say, if your CEO is at the booth that afternoon.  Also use for intelligence: If users you want to target are checking in to the event / show, make sure you follow up with an invitation to come and visit.

I don’t see this as a killer business app yet, but as I recall, Twitter wasn’t viewed as a particular world-changer til it gathered speed. And now, doing business without it seems almost unimaginable. It will be interesting to see the outcome of Foursquare’s talks with search engines, and just how deep the search data can go and how we analyse it.

If they get it right, Foursquare could provide brilliantly detailed location-based intelligence which, like Twitter, we will perhaps wonder how we ever managed without in a few years from now.

Kate Spiers is Founder of Wisdom London, a creative communications consultancy.  She has mixed feelings about Foursquare (but that may all change once she becomes Mayor of somewhere).

Follow Wisdom London on Twitter for more on social media, marketing, business and communications strategy.


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