It could give the nearly 1 million businesses that have claimed
their listing on Foursquare a stronger incentive to be active on
the platform, since they can place messages about specials and
events for free in the activity streams of users who've likely
already spent money in their stores and had enough of an affinity
to want to broadcast their visit to friends.
"Now with local updates, it's hopefully a tool that merchants
engage with every day," said Noah Weiss, the Foursquare product
manager who oversees all merchant-facing tools, who noted that
users will also have the ability to opt out of receiving updates
from a business.
Some brands and organizations that will start using the
functionality at launch this week are H&M, Outback Steakhouse,
Wolfgang Puck, Luke's Lobster, the New York Public Library and the
NYC Parks Department. Users will also only see updates from
businesses when they're in the same city or a somewhat broader area
if they're in the suburbs. In the case of brands with multiple
locations, messages like the announcement of a Labor Day sale or
the release of the latest "Twilight" series film DVD would be
pushed out from the closest store.
The tool has the potential to give brands a reason to actively
manage Foursquare -- which had lacked a CRM component -- that they
didn't have before, according to Rob Reed, founder of the
location-based marketing platform MomentFeed, which has clients
such as Cinnabon and Chili's.
"Specials previously had been a pull channel on Foursquare, and
now they have some push capability," said Mr. Reed, who also noted
that local updates could also give brands a channel to broadcast
the best of user-submitted photos on the platform. "For us, it's
going to unlock a lot of the value that customers are taking and
attaching to venues; you can take the best and push it out as an
Meanwhile, Foursquare is still gearing up to launch paid tools
for merchants, which Ad Age first reported in April. One product will show offers via paid
ads when users search for local specials on Foursquare, and those
promoted placements will be targeted using the same algorithms that
power the "explore" tab, which recommends venues based on users'
check-in histories, as well as check-ins by friends and the wider
Foursquare user base.
A person close to Foursquare says the company is now eyeing a
launch at the end of this month.