By Laura Rubinchuk
Unlike the old playground version of Foursquare, when you had to keep the ball within boundaries, the online/mobile version actually encourages you to venture out and explore new areas and venues…oh, and meet new people.
Foursquare gives you points for every “check-in” you make, and gives you more points for new venues. You also can collect badges, for example: “Super User” for checking in at 50 different venues, “Local” if you check-in to the same place three times in one week, and even a “Crunked” badge for checking-in to four different venues in one night (yes, I have one…call me a social butterfly if you must).
While entertaining to keep track of your friends (i.e. stalk, let’s be honest), the real reason I got hooked on it was when I heard the founder, Dennis Crowley, at Inman Connect in New York talk about the marketing implications of check-ins. For areas that allow billboards, think of the demographic information they can collect when they want to target a certain area for a particular product – they have thousands of check-ins and user information (male/female, age, etc. etc.) to base their decisions on where to spend their marketing dollars.
So how can Foursquare help your real estate business?
Like any other social media application, remember to connect with “locals,” i.e. not just real estate agents, real estate attorneys, lenders, etc. Here’s an example of combining new and old media: I happen to live and farm a certain condo building in Arlington. When I checked-in to our local CVS, it told me that “John Doe is the Mayor of CVS.” So I followed him on twitter and on Foursquare. His next check-in? My condo building. Turns out he lives there too – how’s that for yet another way to connect with your target audience.
Just remember social etiquette applies to Foursquare just like Facebook, Twitter, etc. Nobody really needs to you know your every move, so if you’re exploring somewhere new, at a particular venue, or wanting to prove you go to the gym, check-in! But consider what/where you tweet your check-ins. There are always safety issues with transparency, so if you check-in at home, consider checking-in “off grid,” collect points, but keep your whereabouts hidden.