I did it! I finally became a Mayor on Foursquare! Foursquare is a location-based social network that lets users “check in” to a place they’re visiting, tell friends where they are, and track the history of where they’ve been and who they’ve been there with. Typically, users check in from restaurants, clubs, bars, museums and other places of entertainment. But I’ve also seen people check in from their local grocery store, a hospital, a gas station.
Foursquare crowns you Mayor of a location when you’ve checked in from that location more than anyone else. So I decided to make it a personal quest to become Mayor of Rustico, a restaurant in Alexandria that I enjoy and visit fairly regularly. So for the past couple of months, I scheduled all of my lunch meetings at Rustico, and even took my family there a couple of times. About ten days ago, I finally unseated the current Mayor to become Mayor. Woo hoo!
But here’s the rub: aside from getting a congratulations message from Foursquare and a crown in my profile, being Mayor gave me nothing. I told my waitress when I became Mayor and she looked at me like I was nuts. Ditto the manager. Where other venues offer Mayors something special, I didn’t even get a thank you for promoting the resturant to my Foursquare and Twitter followers for the past few months. Many establishments, especially restaurants now offer “specials” to Mayors and people who check in xx number of times; it’s a great way to encourage people to come, to foster loyalty and spread the word about your company. When a friend called to invite my family to dinner at Rustico, he asked if being Mayor made it easier to get a reservation and I just snorted. Ha! I wish! Not even a free soda!
So I began to wonder if the folks at Rustico are even aware of Foursquare, Foursquare specials, and Mayors! I visited the Rustico website; no familiar links to Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. I did manage to find Rustico on Twitter, but the page is not customized, there’s not even a description! Their Facebook page has 3 fans and no status updates. Okay, so it’s looking like Rustico hasn’t yet developed a solid social networking plan.
I don’t believe every business should be on the Web and every social networking platform; it’s just not realistic, practical or even necessary. What I do believe, however, is that every business should have a listening strategy so that they can know if and when their business is being mentioned or discussed in a significant way on specific platforms. Does Rustico even know that hundreds of people are “checking in” to Rustico on Foursquare and Facebook places each week? Gosh, it takes just minutes to set up Google Alerts and Twitter searches.
Imagine this: you set-up a Google alert so you’re notified when your business is mentioned on the Web. You notice lots of mentions on a specific social network. You check it out, learn more, maybe invest in ads or specials. Foursquare, for example, has a primer for businesses on how to use Foursquare to encourage more business.
As for me, I recently lost the title of Mayor of Rustico but I’m not upset. I’m gunning for Mayor of another restaurant that I KNOW offers specials to its Mayors.
How about you? Are you on Foursquare? Have you managed to become Mayor? Did you get anything special for it?