Foursquare , launched in 2009, is a hot mobile social media platform self-described as a “friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things.”
So far Foursquare has been very successful with
- Individual users
- Media outlets, such as The New York Times and The History Channel
- B2C companies, like Starbucks and McDonald’s
But B2B companies have yet to embrace Foursquare. Many see it as having limited utility and aren’t quite sure how to leverage it, so they don’t see it as a viable business application.
So are there ways B2B companies can use Foursquare to reach new customers or promote their brand? Let’s get creative and look at some of the ways B2B companies can follow the lead of other Foursquare adopters to market their products or services.
Using Foursquare to Promote Events and Tradeshows
Early adopters have already been using Foursquare successfully to promote events and tradeshows. Back in January, Intel partnered with Foursquare  during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) and offered unique badges and freebies for check-ins. Foursquare hasn’t introduced the event function on mobile applications yet, but B2B companies can follow simple steps to implement it.
- Start by creating a new profile for your event.
- Then, add the venue and event description.
- Use the “Tip” function to broadcast event updates, incentives, and nearby meetings and venues to event participants.
- Encourage check-ins, engage participants and reward them.
Also, don’t forget to flag the venue as closed after the event is over. You can also check this post  to learn more about creating events on Foursquare.
Integration with Other Social Media Platforms
B2B companies can also effectively integrate Foursquare with other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to synergize marketing efforts and enhance end-user experience. By linking Foursquare to Facebook and Twitter, check-ins can be shared across platforms. B2B companies can host social gatherings, such as lectures and meet-ups, where savvy social media users will check in at the event venue on Foursquare, send out real-time event updates on Twitter, and share event photos on Facebook, which may even prompt their friends and followers to also become supporters of the company. These marketing efforts will all help with building brand awareness and generating leads.
Targeting Search Engine Results
Bing Maps has integrated Foursquare data  for users to view quick venue tips and mayorships. Google and other search engines are sure to be developing their own location-based features too. Foursquare mapping and commenting features really benefit B2C companies, especially retailers with storefronts. B2B companies can also benefit by adding company locations and listing company events, venues, trainings, seminars, etc. on Foursquare.
Location-based platforms are changing the overall search picture. Search engines will likely integrate real-time location-based data into search results, as they’ve done with universal search elements and real-time social updates. Companies with more check-ins and tips from engaged fans will rank higher in the blended search results. It’s very possible companies will be able to leverage Foursquare to boost their SEO efforts through brand engagement signals, much like what has happened with Facebook and Twitter.
Tracking Sales Team Performance
Another way B2B companies can use Foursquare is as a sales management tool. B2B companies can use the mobile networking platform to track sales and sales performance metrics and to offer incentives to its sales staff. For example, the sales person who works hardest and collects the most check-ins could earn a reward. What’s more, the sales team could possibly identify potential leads and grab personal data about the leads by tracking their check-in behaviors on Foursquare.
However, this brings up proprietary data issues. Sales people probably don’t want competitors to know where they have been and who they’ve had sales calls with. The solution would be to launch a private version of Foursquare with custom applications. With a custom version, B2B companies can set restrictions and allow only current employees into the account. Check-in updates from the sales team would be shared internally and could even be available to only the management team. And management could send out real-time lead information to the sales force.
The customer service team could benefit in the same way. This would work like emailing or text-messaging, but with location features, which would be easier for two-way communication. To be more advanced, employees can view the updates and tips through a corporate email account with a simple connection. And every company and employee can have several Foursquare accounts for public, private and other use. In the future, a person’s online and mobile accounts will all be connected, but with advanced features to address privacy concerns.
Enhancing Corporate Culture and Community
B2B companies can use Foursquare to build community within the organization. Through checking in the corporate location, both management and employees will achieve stronger internal relations. Whoever checks in the most will become the mayor, and everybody has an equal opportunity to obtain the mayorship, not only the CEO. The mayorship can also be stolen by another employee. In the game-like process to grab mayorship, employees will gain a better bond, build morale and better internal relationships.
Employees might also check in together at a restaurant after work, or at the airport on a business trip. Internally, they win badges of swarm (50+ people are also checked in here) and jetsetter (5 airport check-ins). With a better sense of company unity, they can show clients and fans that they’re part of a great team with a strong corporate culture.
Partnering with Foursquare
Inspired by Twitter, Foursquare has opened its API to developers. There’s a potential for B2B companies, specifically software companies, to adopt a Foursquare component into their products through the API. Foursquarefox , a third-party Firefox plugin, enables you to check in and locate friends from your browser.
At WordStream , who knows…we might develop tools such as WordStream SEO for Foursquare.