Friday, December 30, 2011

foursquare: New Burnsville, MN Restaurant Doing it Right

It’s not often that I take the time to promote a particular business because of something that has impressed me… however, in this case, I have to.  Not because of the food… because I haven’t had a chance to try it yet… not to mention I’m not a professional food critic.
What DOES impress me is something I’ve seen them do online as it applies to the use of social media.  As I work with businesses and organizations, I find that most business owners and non-profit executives overlook an important social media tool.  Most often it’s because they’re unaware.  Sometimes it’s because they minimize the significance or feel that, for some reason, the tool just isn’t for them.  In ALL cases… it’s simply a lack of understanding and education.  This business gets it.  The social media tool?  foursquare.  The business?  Ernies Pub & Grille in Burnsville, MN.
Ernie's Pub & Grille in Burnsville, MNA recent article in the Burnsville Patch announced the opening of this new dining establishment… so, as a Social Media Coach and Speaker, the first thing I was compelled to do was take a look at their online presence.  Needless to say… I was immediately impressed.  I don’t often see new businesses start off with their “i’s” already dotted and their “t’s” already crossed.  Not only does their website clearly, yet subtly make visitors aware that they have a “Facebook Page” and a “Twitter” presence… but what surprised me the most was seeing their“foursquare” icon… and THAT was what prompted me to write this article.
First order of business… just WHAT is “foursquare”?  It’s easiest just to use foursquare’s own words.  “Foursquare makes the real world easier to use. We build tools that help you keep up with friends, discover what’s nearby, save money and unlock deals. Whether you’re setting off on a trip around the world, coordinating a night out with friends, or trying to pick out the best dish at your local restaurant, foursquare is the perfect companion.”
“foursquare” was established in 2007 and officially launched in 2009.  There are currently 15 million users worldwide and over 500,000 businesses actively using this platform to promote their businesses, organizations, and events.
WHY should you, as a business owner, be using foursquare?  Simply put… it’s yet another way to promote your business or organization to an audience who otherwise wouldn’t know that your business or organization exists.
HOW you should be using foursquare depends on the type of business you have or the type of organization you represent.  ”foursquare” gives you the ability to create a variety of special “check-in” offers which can be used to entice people to do business with you, come into your establishment and shop, or take advantage of whatever services you have to offer.  Don’t have something tangible to give those who “check-in”?  Use it as an opportunity to build relationships with businesses around you who DO have something to offer.  The opportunities are endless.
Using my “foursquare” iPhone app… I performed a simple search for “restaurants”.  Look at the screen shot.  Which establishment catches your eye?  Seasoned “foursquare” users will immediately notice the orange “SPECIAL” next to “Ernie’s Pub & Grille”.  The user will instinctively be curious and tap it to see what the offer is.  If the offer is enticing enough, “Ernie’s Pub & Grille” will soon be serving that person and whoever he/she happens to be bringing along!
I can’t tell you exactly how many customers “Ernie’s Pub & Grille” has served since opening two months ago on Oct. 24th.  I CAN tell you that as of the writing of this article, at least 78 of those individual customers have “checked-in”.  I can also tell you that they’ve had a total of 109 “check-ins”… which indicates that they’ve had a number of repeat customers just from those 78 “foursquare” users.  This isn’t secret or confidential information.  You don’t need a “foursquare” account to see it.  Click on the photo and see for yourself.
Here’s the thing.  Depending on the type of business you have, there’s a strong possibility it’s already listed in “foursquare”.  If it is, there a good chance that, unbeknownst to you, people have been “checking-in” all along!  If you’re not using “foursquare” you’re missing out on some golden opportunities for your business.
Might I have some observations and recommendations?  Of course I might… wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t.  However, I’d encourage business owners to take note.  ”Ernie’s Pub & Grill” serves as an excellent example of the type of thinking that business owners need to start embracing.  Social media is here to stay.  It’s not just a fad.  It’s going to grow and will continue to play an integral part of doing business today and in the future.  If, as a business owner, you refuse to embrace it and grow with it, you’ll only be hurting yourself… AND your business.

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