When was the last time a guest bragged about being “the mayor” of your restaurant?
While Foursquare claims “tens of millions” of monthly users, its relevance seems to have taken a hit in light of more popular dining apps like Yelp and TripAdvisor, as well as Facebook and Google’s increased activity in the space.
Which might be why the company announced Thursday it is sharpening its strategy, launching a new app called Swarm to help users meet up with friends and refining Foursquare’s purpose as a discovery channel.
Swarm is meant to help users find out where their friends are when they’re out on the town. Instead of texting “where are you?” or “do you want to meet up?” the company hopes users will open the Swarm app to connect with their friends.
Simultaneously, the Foursquare app will “go through a metamorphosis,” the company says, by introducing recommendations from friends and experts. It will offer a more personalized approach to someone looking for a great dining spot.
“Local search today is like the digital version of browsing through the Yellow Pages. We believe local search should be personalized to your tastes and informed by the people you trust,” the company says. “We’re right now putting the final touches on this new, discovery-focused version of Foursquare. It’ll be polished and ready for you later this summer.”
Foursquare is still a viable digital marketing channel for your restaurant and should be monitored alongside Yelp, TripAdvisor, Google, Facebook and others. According to NewBrandAnalytics, a “social intelligence” company that helps restaurants monitor what’s being said about them online, 80 percent of active Foursquare users have made a purchase or visited a business based on tips posted by other local users.
“The best way to get new people to visit your business with Foursquare is to have customers post interesting tips about you,” the company suggested in a recent blog post.
NewBrandAnalytics offers three ways to increase guest interaction on FourSquare:
• Get people to check in by creating deals, such as offering 15 percent off the bill or a free cocktail to guests who check in.
• Differentiate your restaurant by creating something special that sets you apart from competitors, such as a free sample of your restaurant’s specialty dish.
• Publicize your participation on Foursquare by using signage or window clings.
Foursquare’s attempt to offer a more personalized approach is critically important to its relevance as search-giant Google rolls out more user-friendly mobile features. Just this week, Google announced it has added deeper integration of its restaurant search to Google Search on Android. The integration allows Android users to type or speak queries like “show me restaurants in New Orleans.”
Google’s restaurant initiatives run pretty deep; for example, users can ask for specific cuisines or restaurants at a certain price point.
“It’s hard to make last-minute hotel and restaurant reservations in your price range, in the right neighborhood and with the right flair. But now, you can just ask a quick question on your phone,” the company posted (appropriately) on its Google+ page when announcing the new features. “… If you need a way to make sense of the many options, tap the new filter tool to help you narrow it down by price, ratings, cuisine, and even whether it’s open now.”
Foursquare and Google are just a few online outlets today’s diners are using to find out about your restaurant. As a younger generation builds more disposable income, it’s imperative to ensure your restaurant is being portrayed accurately and optimally across this relatively new medium.