*Nate Riggs, principal at Social Business Strategies LLC, is a communication and social Web strategist and practitioner. You can find resources, social business strategy and other valuable content by visiting Nate's blog.
There is a flurry of activity around Foursquare, one member in the set of location-based services that are growing in popularity in the social media landscape.
Thoughtfully named after a popular schoolyard game, Foursquare has started to dominate the adoption rates of LBS (location based services) due to the presence of a competitive point system, which encourages users to add more locations for increased point totals. Users of Foursquare can compete with their personal networks, or even on a broader scale with their entire city of residence.
Besides points, Foursquare awards power users with badges, virtual marks of honor for completing a certain task as they check in at any given location. Better yet, the customer who checks into a location the most frequently is awarded the coveted title of "mayor" over that specific business. For avid Foursquare players, the title of mayor is a coveted prize and worn proudly as a badge of honor in the "game."
Why recognize your store's mayor? By embracing LBS applications like Foursquare and the customers who are using it in your business location, you can begin to tap into their personal social circles – online and offline. All you need to do is pay attention, get to know them and create the best customer experience you can. In turn, those customers and the power of the social Web will do the rest.
What it means to be mayor
It's safe to say that most businesses like loyal customers. The genius behind Foursquare and the presence of mayors is that this title indicates that the patron is a regular, and oftentimes a frequent customer.
Some mayors may be employed by the business at hand, but aside from that, most location mayors live or work within close proximity to the business and tend to be its most brand-loyal customers. It's up to you as an operator of a business to find ways to leverage these people and their favorable traits.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started:
- Learn who your mayors are (you can do this by looking it up at www.Foursquare.com). The mayorship of your business will most likely change hands between the same three to four people over time. Know all of them by name and face.
- Take the time to connect with your mayors across other social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. If they blog, read it and maybe even leave the occasional comment.
- Invite your mayor to meet with you in person. Take the time to have a real-life conversation.
- Ask your mayors why they choose to come to your location. Learn why they buy from you and ask how you can improve.
- Offer to open an ongoing tab for your mayor.
- On occasion, comp your mayor's purchase. As the mayor of your business, he or she likely already spends plenty of dough in your location. A pizza or appetizer on the house is a nice gesture of appreciation for their ongoing business.
- Give your mayors a book of buy-one-get-one-free coupons and ask them to bring their friends to your location.
- Find out when your mayor has a birthday or anniversary or any special event. Then, throw him or her a party and ask him or her invite friends.
- Make your mayor a VIP at your location. Does he or she have a favorite place to sit? Reserve it for him or her. Know your mayors' typical orders and the times they come. Have things ready for them. Go the extra mile to appreciate their business.
Don't forget that Foursquare mayors tend to be early adopters and are oftentimes centers of online influence. With that customer profile in mind, these same people are also epicenters of word-of-mouth marketing who get pleasure and respect from letting their friends and family know about the best places to eat, drink and shop.