In Jan. 2010 Intel became the first organization to establish an “official” brand page on Foursquare. Since that time, more than 3,000 organizations have set up pages within the platform – albeit via a somewhat clunky process. Until recently, companies were required to 1) place a media buy within Foursquare or 2) work with the platform’s business development team directly to set up a page.
That all changed this week when Foursquare opened its platform up for brands aspiring to establish an official presence. Now, any business, organization or publication can create its own brand page thanks to a new brand-friendly self-serve model. Foursquare’s motivation for simplifying the process: to populate its platform with content.
With this move, Foursquare will enable marketers and business owners to go beyond checking in and begin creating content in the form of tips, comments, photos and more. By leaning on its dynamic user base to create and share content, Foursquare can increase the value exchange by fostering conversation AND better compete with other location-based sites that have richer content via reviews and discussion (i.e. Yelp). This latest update allows any brand to create a steady stream of content, which users can then share with their own networks.
For marketers, the update offers tremendous opportunities to create content, inspire engagement and expand their brands’ reach in the digital space. Here is a breakdown of some of the more exciting new features.
Expanded Reach – Brands can now reach even more people within Foursquare’s 10 million member community by checking into and leaving tips at local venues.
Cross-Platform Promotion – Brands can now sync check-ins with their Facebook and Twitter pages. Many individuals sync their social presences, and now brands can do the same – adding another dimension of “humanness” to their presences.
Engagement on a Global Scale – With this update, brands can allow entire teams of people manage one single profile – a dream scenario for large, global companies. Multiple administrators can all contribute to the page by checking-in and leaving tips at local venues. While this feature isn’t necessarily important for brands associated with a specific geographic region (i.e. Kate Spade New York), this presents massive opportunity for global organizations that might not wish to be confined to a single city.
Photo Sharing – In addition to creating more written content, Brands can also upload photos to their tips and check-ins, making the experience more robust than ever before.
From Friends to Followers – The new Foursquare brand pages will allow people to follow their favorite brands, without becoming “friends.” This allows for conversations that go beyond leaving tips on a page.
A Fresh Look – Brand pages are also getting a design facelift, with opportunities to create a custom banner, bio, and links to other platforms and websites (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, a company blog). This new look differentiates brand pages from individual user pages.
Foursquare product manager Noah Weiss told Ad Age that the platform was taking on 70 new brand pages a week under the old system, and the launch of the self-service process should only speed up brand enrollment. But there is one challenge: brands moving from user profiles to a brand page will not be able to convert their friends into followers, and will be forced to build their community from scratch.
Despite this drawback, the upside is great for marketers whose objectives align with what Foursquare can deliver. For some marketers, Foursquare will gain a greater role within broader community management efforts and allow the brand to connect with people within a new environment, and in new ways.
-Tatiana Urriaga is a Community Manager at 360i.