Tag Archives: check-in

Using Social Media for Your Restaurant: Foursquare

Image from Social Media Examiner

In our final installment of the “Using Social Media for Your Restaurant” series, we’re going to cover Foursquare.  The sites we’ve covered (FacebookTwitter, Yelp! and Foursquare) were chosen because they are well known, but there are more sites out there. If you find one you think will work well for your customers, by all means pursue it.

We first took a look at Foursquare when our home city, Indianapolis, declared April 16 as Foursquare day.  After looking into it, we realized Foursquare is much more than just “checking-in” a place.  A few weeks later we got in touch with Russ Chargualaf, executive chef of Houlihan’s (Castleton Square, Indianapolis) for a blog and learned how great of a marketing tool Foursquare is through his experience.

What is Foursquare? I think we hit the nail on the head in May’s Foursquare blog:

“The location-based social media site, Foursquare, is gaining popularity among millions of mobile app users worldwide and also for over 250,000 (and counting) businesses—many being restaurants. With over eight million users and over 2.5 million check-in’s per day, this is another great advertising tool for restaurants. Best of all, it’s free and doesn’t take much time at all.”

Image from Foursquare Website

Where to Begin? If you haven’t joined Foursquare, you can go here to get your account. Upon logging in, you will be able to see what your friends are up to, but you will want to look into information for merchants to get working on new things for your restaurant.

First, similar to Yelp and other social media sites we’ve discussed, you will want to claim your venue.  Once you’ve claimed your venue, you can update your bio, other contact information (i.e. Twitter, website, and phone number), categories, tags and more.

While logged in, you can also view your venue stats which will allow you to know your customers better.


Badge Image from Zagat Blog

When you’re logged in on your venue (or any venue) you will notice tips.

“Tips are generally things you’d recommend to others,” the Foursquare support site says.  For example, someone may leave a tip saying, “Try the bacon cheeseburger!” or “Stop in Friday nights for a free appetizer!”

Once joining, you will see people checking-in and writing tips on your wall. In one of Chargualaf’s many marketing strategies, he utilizes Foursquare’s tips on locations in surrounding areas.  We posted in our May blog:

“In Houlihan’s case, at every hotel or motel within a mile, Chargualaf will put in a Tip welcoming someone to Houlihan’s with a short history, specials and hours.  Also, he’s been creative by creating a Tip for Midas and other car repair shops that says, “Just got your bill? Come and share your sorrows with us.  Half off drinks all day, everyday at Houlihan’s Castleton Square Mall.”

Foursquare Specials

Restaurants are one of the key places Foursquare specials are used. These are implemented for both new and loyal customers upon checking into your establishment. Upon checking in, customers can earn badges as a reward.  You can use these badges to then reward your customers.

“Be it a mobile coupon, prizes, discounts, your name on it, we dig it,” Techsterr.com says in their Tutorial on How to Create Foursquare Special for Business.

Steps for Starting a Special (through a Campaign)
Click here for more information on Foursquare’s specials.

  1. Click “Manager Tools”
  2. Click “Campaigns”
  3. Choose “Start a Campaign”
  4. Choose which type of special you would like to run (Techsterr fills you in on all the definitions for which type of special to run here)
  5. Finalize the verbiage, in which you will be able to see on the right hand side of your screen what your special will look like
  6. Just before you begin your special, you’ll reach a screen to show your special and you can choose when the special ends, save it for later if you need to then click “Start Campaign Now” to get rolling

It’s More Than Specials…

Just like Facebook, Twitter and Yelp—there are multiple aspects of Foursquare and ways to use it to grow your business. While it’s free, you must remember these two words: Self promote.  Grab attention by placing a check-in widget on your website, blog, etc.  You can even add in a special tab for your Facebook page or WordPress blog.

We’ve told you in the other blogs in the series, get the word out to your customers in all ways you can, so inform them about your Foursquare presence at your establishment and online. In your restaurant, you can look into printing off “Check-in” signs or get window clings.

By making your presence known on the web, you won’t only be attracting your regulars; you will be attracting people in the area that find you. Via their phone or on a website, customers can search an area and see what’s around them. So by running specials, posting tips and just keeping current, you will attract a new set of customers while remaining loyal to your regulars.


Take a look at these resources to help you through your Foursquare journey. We hope our social media series has been helpful. Be sure to comment below with any of your own tips for using social media for your restaurant.

Foursquare Merchant Platform by Foursquare

Foursquare Marketing Tips for Restaurants by Rebel Marketing Cafe

Houlihan’s: A Foursquare Success by Central Restaurant Products

Top 5 Foursquare Mistakes Committed by Small Businesses by Financial Bin

Why Restaurants Should Be Using Foursquare by Harrison Marketing

Image from Foursquare

Foursquare for Restaurants and Bars by Twitter for Restaurants

Keys to Success with Social Media Marketing: Foursquare by ClickZ