October 31, 2012
Foursquare for Property Managers: Raise Your Property’s Profile
Foursquare is a geo-marketing and social media website and application that’s taking the mobile world by storm. So we thought we would put together a Foursquare for Property Managers 101. Consumers across the globe use their smartphones to tap into Foursquare, letting friends know where they are, where they’ve been, and what they think of those places. The phenomenon has already logged 20 million users so far in 2012, and is expected to continue expanding its reach in the coming months and years. For more background, visit the Foursquare Wikipedia entry.
People are using Foursquare to post their thoughts on every kind of business and building you can think of – including those belonging to property management firms and REITs. It’s important that you be aware of what they’re saying, and how you can use that information to improve your service offering and increase your promotional efforts.
How Foursquare works
When customers arrive at various locations, they use their smartphones to “check-in” with Foursquare, letting their friends know where they’re at and what they’re up to. Once customers are in the range of a business, tips and deals can pop up in an attempt to draw people in. Users are offered incentives to check in to various locations; they can earn points for every visit, and those who stop by a particular location the most over a 60-day period are named “Mayor” of that venue.
Restaurant and café managers take advantage of the application by offering discounts and special perks to the Mayor, or letting people know about their latest specials. But that doesn’t mean the food industry owns the market on Foursquare. There are plenty of ways property management firms and REITs can use this location-based social networking tool to up the ante on their marketing initiatives.
Laying claim to your business
The first thing you should do is check Foursquare’s search to find out if your business is listed. If it isn’t, or if it’s listed incorrectly (by someone who isn’t affiliated with your business), you can claim your company and set up your Foursquare page.
These pages offer a unique, highly effective way of managing your brand and reaching customers. By monitoring your page for complaints or negative reviews, you can ensure a timely response to any concerns. Imagine how disastrous it could be if prospective tenants “checked in” to your building, only to see comments about a run-down lobby or broken elevators.
Of course, the hope is that any negative feedback will be kept to a minimum. But in the case that it does arise, it’s much better to be aware so that you can resolve the issue and maintain a positive focus on your page.
Using Foursquare to your advantage
One of the simplest and most effective ways of making Foursquare work for you is to give users a reason to keep coming back to your page.
- Add tips about must-see restaurants, stores and other venues in your neighborhood.
- Post Mayor deals and check-in coupons for nearby businesses.
- Create Mayor deals of your own; for example, you could have a reserved parking space on your property for the current “Mayor of Acme Apartments.”
- Offer referral specials for Foursquare users, or freebies for checking in to your leasing office.
You should also take full advantage of other social media tie-ins. Link your Foursquare account to Facebook and Twitter so you can let users know about the Foursquare promotions you offer. And consider partnering with some of the local cafés and businesses you’d want to promote on your page. In exchange for linking to their websites, you could propose a special discount for their customers that’s “brought to you by XYZ Apartments.”
The app is here to stay
However you decide to use Foursquare, you should know this: it’s more than a flavor of the year. Don’t expect it to just go away. Plenty of apps are being built that are connected to Foursquare’s API. For example, there’s an app in New York City called “uhpartments” that finds and recommends apartment buildings, based on data from NYC’s apartment complaints. It features street view images, lists nearby amenities recommended by Foursquare, and details negative feedback from former and current tenants (or others in the know). Given the popularity of these kinds of apps, it won’t be long before markets like Toronto and Vancouver see something similar.
Foursquare is a powerful tool. It offers public access to information that could make or break your prospects with new customers. It’s in your very best interests to harness the app’s power – both so that you can monitor (and promptly respond to) any negative feedback about your building, and create new ways of spreading the word about all the wonderful features and services you offer.