Did you know that 4% of online Americans use location-based services such as Foursquare? Using internet-connected mobile devices’ geolocation capabilities, this social network let users notify others of their locations by “checking in” to that location. Learn how your nonprofit can use Foursquare to increase brand visibility, raise funds and engage with supporters.
On my recent post “100 Social Media Tactics for Nonprofits,” I showed you how to help web visitors tweet about your content by adding a Twitter button on your web pages. This post will explore tactic #67: claiming your location on Foursquare to ensure accuracy and maximize exposure. I will then take it a step further by exploring how your nonprofit can use this location-based network to advance its mission.
What is Foursquare?
It is a location-based social networking site, game and city guide. Users are awarded points, “mayorships” and badges for visiting places and checking in via their mobile. In many ways, Foursquare is a game changer for social networking.
While Facebook and Twitter ask for real time updates on what users are doing, Foursquare focuses on where users are hanging out and who’s with them. And while Facebook and Twitter were designed to be accessed via web and only later moved to mobile access, Foursquare is exclusively a mobile application. The biggest difference, however, is that up until now social networks have remained virtual. The physical link between people on social media wasn’t there — until now. Foursquare connects users’ virtual and physical worlds.
Businesses have quickly realized the power of using location-based marketing to engage their mobile customers. Through discounts, specials and rewards, businesses are tapping into new clients and attracting repeat ones. For example, users can become a “mayor” of a venue by visiting the place frequently and get special discounts or giveaways. In essence, people are earning both virtual goods (badges, points, mayorships) and actual discounts or goods from the venues.
In addition, businesses benefit from the power of peer-to peer marketing. When users visit a venue and check in, they can share their physical whereabouts with their networks. As of today, this social networking site has 4 million users and is quickly gaining momentum. Its rate of growth is said to be half a million users per month.
How is Foursquare Relevant to Your Nonprofit?
Nonprofits need to manage their online reputations and engage with tech-savvy supporters to promote their mission on social-media channels. With over 290 million mobile phones users in the United States, Foursquare presents the perfect opportunity to do this.
Joe Waters, Director of Cause Marketing at Boston Medical Center and founder of SelfishGiving, gives us five great pointers on how other nonprofits are using this location-based social network to power social good. 1
Increase brand presence. The geo-location element is a great way to put your nonprofit on the map.
Manage people within an event. If your supporters are young, they’d probably like to connect with you via social networks. Ask your volunteers to check in on Foursquare when your nonprofit holds an event. Not only will you know where they are, but you could call and text them instructions and questions.
Cause marketing. Recruit a corporate partner to make a donation to your cause every time a user checks in to their store or restaurant. Another option is to reward each user who checks in with a badge (like the American Red Cross).
Event promotion. This is a great marketing tool if you are trying to get corporate sponsors. In a win-win situation, sponsors can promote a nonprofit’s event to shoppers when they check-in. For example, “Join Best Buy employees and customers at the AIDS Walk this Sunday!”
As an added benefit, corporate sponsors have a chance to show customers that they embrace social responsibility.
Fundraising. If your nonprofit is in or near a shopping district, you can recruit a group of stores and restaurants to offer a weekend discount to Foursquare users. The lucky shopper saves 10% when they check in and the store makes a donation to your cause.
3 Things You Can Do Right Away to Get Started
1. Register your nonprofit. First, search to see if your organization already has a venue on Foursquare. If it does, great, but chances are that your organization is not going to come up in search results. If that is the case, you can create a venue by going to http://foursquare.com/add_venue
2. Add ‘Tips.’ The tips and shout-out features let you include interesting details about your cause. Tips act as an information portal for supporters. Check out Best Practices for Tips page.
3. Promote your presence on Foursquare across other social media platforms to reach prospective and existing supporters.
Watch the video below for a 2 minutes introduction of this location-based social network: