Checking-in with Foursquare: What’s the Deal?

As SXSW wrapped up I realized that two years had passed since Foursquare made a big splash at SXSW 2009. Time to check-in.

Foursquare has been very busy lately. They added the ability to post photos and comments to check-ins via the iPhone and Android in time for the holidays.

Last August I heard predictions that Facebook Places would be the end of Foursquare, but Business Insider recently reported that Foursquare has actually doubled its user base since Places launched.

And perhaps in a bid to compete with Facebook’s location based deals, Foursquare expanded its Merchant Platform to include five new types of discount offers or “Specials.”

Foursquare's iPhone app 3.0 showing Specials nearby

Foursquare's iPhone app 3.0 showing Specials nearby

Foursquare's iPhone app 3.0 showing new types of Specials

Foursquare's iPhone app 3.0 showing new types of Specials

Specials for the Rest of Us

I previously felt that Foursquare Specials were almost inaccessible. Most of them were only for Mayors. And trying to claim the mayor-ship of your local (and popular) Starbucks is no small task. Foursquare has added the ability to list multiple Specials with their 3.0 update, which means that deals and offers can now extend to less rabid users.

Here’s a breakdown of the new array of offer types:

  • Flash Specials can be restricted by time/date and first X users
  • Friends Specials unlock deals by checking in with several friends at once
  • Swarm Specials swarms can include a check-in total for multiple business locations
  • Newbie Specials lure first time check-ins
  • Loyalty Specials reward your regulars
  • Mayor Specials you can still pamper your number one fan

So is it working? Perhaps it’s too early to tell. However, Ad Age just reported that Radio Shack was able to almost double its usual weekly number of Foursquare check-ins in part by offering 20% first-time and 10% repeat-visit discounts.

I would love to hear from anyone who has cashed in on one of Foursquare’s new Specials or any business owners offering a new Special. Are you reaping the rewards?