Tag Archives: Brands

(Four)Square for Nonprofits. It’s Not the School Yard Game.

I’ve been an avid Foursquare user for over a year now.  I’ll admit, I didn’t really get into the application until I was running the Marketing strategy for a company, but even since leaving, I’ve been hooked.  Not only is Foursquare addicting, but it’s very useful for brands and businesses.If you remember from Monday’s post, one of the investors in Foursquare has also started another venture of his own, Square.

Although Foursquare is a pretty well-known app for a lot of the “tech geeks” out there (or those living in larger cities), I’ve run into a lot of people – especially back home in CT – who don’t know what Foursquare is.  So, here goes…

Foursquare is a location-based mobile platform that makes cities easier to use and more interesting to explore. By “checking in” via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges. Foursquare guides real-world experiences by allowing users to bookmark information about venues that they want to visit and surfacing relevant suggestions about nearby venues. Merchants and brands leverage the foursquare platform by utilizing a wide set of tools to obtain, engage, and retain customers and audiences. ~ Foursquare.com

What’s the Point? Why Would You Ever Want to Use Foursquare?

You might be asking “why would my nonprofit event want to use Foursquare?”  For starters, it’s a great way to attract new supporters – whether through your social media sites or actual advocates.  When someone checks-in to a venue, they have the choice to promote that check-in on their Facebook and/or Twitter page.  Most people will opt-in to this choice, thus spreading your good name and getting their friends/followers interested.  Great – now you’re spreading your brand even further!

So, how can your nonprofit best use Foursquare?  To start off, you need to create a page. You have two options in doing this:

  1. Venue Owners: If you want people to be checking into your actual office space, click “Venue Owners“.  That is, companies like Starbucks, Sports Authority, and the Museum of Modern Art have created venues.  This can help you attract new supporters by offering rewards for checking into your office, attending an event, etc.  Think t-shirts and bracelets or – on a larger scale – iPhones, iPads, jewelry.
  2. Brands: Most nonprofits create a “Brand” account, which might be a better route.  This is for organizations not tied to a specific location.  For example, NOH8 CampaignLIVESTRONG, NWF, NAACPHistory Channel, Bravo, and Zagat, have all created brand pages.  If you choose to create a Brand page, Foursquare lets you create a customized page and badges.

I’ve Created a Page. What Now?!

Now that you’ve created your own page, there’s so much you can do!  If you’ve set your nonprofit up as a venue, make sure you create an incentive for people to come visit.  This would work best if you’re a homeless shelter, advocacy group who hosts events at your office, and any organization that typically has volunteers come work.  Also make sure you can offer an incentive for people to come back.  Make sure your supporters know that the Mayor of your venue will receive a free “x”.  As Foursquare explains, there are various types of specials: Mayor Special, Frequency Special, Count Special, etc.  Obviously, the better the prize, the more enticed people are to come, check-in and volunteer.

On the flip side, if you set your organization up as a brand, you should push your team to create a custom page and badge.  People foam at the mouth for a new badge (trust me, I’m one of them).  I promise you, they’re much more likely to come follow your brand and accomplish the tasks on your “To-Do” list if there is an incentive like a shiny, good-looking, new badge.

Tips: Help Your Supporters Become Insiders

This brings me to my next point: Tips.  Since you’re an advocacy group, you obviously have an area of expertise.  Tips allow you to spread the knowledge to your Foursquare followers.  For example, The History Channel used Tips to leave historical factoids around the country in advance of its America: The Story of Us miniseries.  Make sure that the tips you leave are relevant, interesting, and provide information that only an insider would know (ex: buy a (RED) Starbucks product to donate 3% to Project RED or other secret details).

Other than creating a Foursquare account, here’s one piece of advice: as with your other social media platforms, promote your Foursquare page – whether it’s a brand or venue – through your other social media sites.  Get it up on your blog, Facebook page, Twitter account – everywhere!

Can I Have an Example, Please?

Imagine you’re running a homeless shelter.  Foursquare is a great way to get new volunteers and online supporters!  Offer incentives to repeat volunteers, create tips about nearby grocery stores who donate food to your shelter, create a venue for an upcoming advocacy event.  There are so many ways to get the most out of Foursquare!

Get Out There!

Not sure why I made this a separate section…

Anyways.  That’s enough chatting.  What are you waiting for?! Make an awesome Foursquare page and get that thing rocking!

For more information, you can check out the following Mashable articles:


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