With more than 25 million people on Foursquare and 3 billion check-ins, Foursquare competes with the likes of Instagram (45 million users) and Path (5 million users) and is one of the few successful mobile-only social networks. Since it launched in 2009, Foursquare has become an increasingly helpful tool for local businesses and national brands trying to connect with consumers on a 1:1 level.

I witnessed the power of Foursquare recently when I helped to create a partnership between Foursquare and TIME magazine for the 2012 political conventions. Through customized Foursquare content and badges tailored for the convention experience, TIME was able to reach nearly 1 out of 5 people on the ground at the RNC and DNC in a meaningful, relevant and location-specific way. And it is this experience which convinced me to consider Foursquare in marketing campaigns. The good news is that Foursquare recently improved its platform making it more useful for businesses and marketing strategy.

Recent changes to Foursquare’s user policy include:

  • Foursquare will now display your full name on your profile.
  • Businesses on Foursquare will be able to see more of their recent customers’ activity.

Why are these changes important? Connect a name with a face. With these new changes, Foursquare now helps you connect a name with a face, which will help users decide who to accept and who to ignore. For marketers, the use of the full name will allow for a more accurate understanding of customer profiles and the ability to track feedback and make data-driven decisions. Being able to view the check-in data for venues for an entire day instead of just three hours can create a log of data that is invaluable for business owners. It is worth noting that how much a user shares publicly is based on his or her privacy preferences.

How will these changes help your marketing strategy? Make data-driven decisions. If you are a business owner with several franchises, you can now monitor the quality of service through the comments left on Foursquare and make sure you are never letting a customer down. You can even improve the experience of a consumer by sending them a frequent customer coupon or reward based on their check-in behavior. The added access to audience information creates a greater reason to advertise on Foursquare to ensure that updates or deals from your venue show up prominently in user feeds.

How should you use Foursquare for your marketing strategy? Storytelling is still key. When Foursquare re-launched its mobile application this year, it gave more prominence to photos, improved the commenting features and increased the ability to explore businesses and activities around you. This means that the “discovery” feature of Foursquare is more powerful than ever, and it can compete with the likes of Yelp or Google Search. For businesses, this means that it is more important to have your business well-adapted to Foursquare by adding photos and relevant tips to make your Foursquare profile more attractive to users if you want to monetize their Foursquare experience.

Jennifer Nedeau is a director at Bully Pulpit Interactive, where she executes online marketing and digital advertising campaigns. She has previously worked at Time Inc., Air America Media and New Media Strategies and has served as a consultant for media, nonprofit and corporate clients. She earned her bachelor’s degree in journalism at George Washington University’s School of Media and Public Affairs.

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