Up Your PR Game With Location-Based Comms—4 Strategies for Foursquare

Every communicator should want an edge, and to get an edge, you have to go outside the box and jump into a technology that you might not be so familiar with. Location-based technology may be one of them.

While many PR pros believe Foursquare is more of a marketing tool than a communications tool, those lines are blurring, especially as the platform is now integrated with big-gun social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

Yet Foursquare is still considered an emerging social media platform, even though it now counts 10 million registered users, says Michael Bassik managing director and U.S. digital practice chair at Burson-Marsteller. “It’s popular with early adopters and influencers in the online media space,” says Bassik. “As it continues to grow, however, we’re telling our clients to take Foursquare very seriously.”

Why? Because while Foursquare and its location-based model may be lend itself most to an “instant gratification” marketing model, the platform also has customer awareness, branding and loyalty components that shouldn’t be overlooked, says Aaron Strout, social media group director at interactive and marketing communications agency WCG.

Strout, the co-author of the book Location Based Marketing for Dummies (Amzn.to/lbm4d), to be released in August 2011, says, “Foursquare is great for engagement, and since Fortune 500 companies seem more short-term focused with their promotion, they are embracing the platform.”

Yet Foursquare really has its roots with local, small business communicators. Stacy Garcia, VP of public relations at TransMedia Group in Boca Raton, FL, says her agency uses Foursquare not only for restaurants and clubs—natural fits for the platform—but also for events and to promote physicians as well.

Just remember, says Garcia, that your audience is largely limited to the young and tech-savvy, so don’t expect a wide swath of engagement.

Before Foursquare was launched at South by Southwest Interactive in 2009, cofounder Dennis Crowley had created a similar platform called Dodgeball. It appears that Crowley has a thing for playground games.

The question is, are you, as a PR practitioner, ready to play Foursquare?

To help you decide, we present four different Foursquare strategies to consider, from short-term to long-term customer engagement, that have resonated with Foursquare users.


Michael Bassik, michael.bassik@bm.com; Aaron Strout, astrout@wcgworld.com; Staci Garcia, sgarcia@transmediagroup.com.