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Social Check-in: Four Free Ways to Leverage Location-based Social Networking

Here are four free ways brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage Foursquare's social, location-based service.

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Has your small business leveraged location-based social networking to attract new customers?

Many brick and mortar businesses partner with Foursquare and other geosocial applications like Yelp, Gowalla, and Facebook Places to acquire and retain new business.

For instance, over one million businesses currently use the Merchant Platform offered by the New York mobile startup, Foursquare. With a community of over 25 million people worldwide and over 2.5 billion check-ins, Forsquare aims to add value to users and small businesses alike.

Mobile marketing platforms such as Foursquare don’t show signs of slowing down and the industry is marked for rapid growth, some even saying that mobile has hit an inflection point.

The “US mobile advertising market [at a whole] is growing far faster than expected … eMarketer estimates mobile advertising spending in the US reached $1.45 billion in 2011, up 89% from $769.6 million in 2010. This year, US mobile ad spending will grow 80% to $2.61 billion.”

Industry pundits suggest that small businesses can expect mobile industry growth to impact their bottom line this holiday season. According to a recent National Retail Federation Newsletter, more than half (52.9%) of shoppers who own smartphones plan to use their devices to research and make purchases and roughly four-in-ten (43%) will use a mobile device to redeem a voucher at in-store point of sale.

If you’re ready to tap into the popularity of geosocial applications, here are four free ways brick-and-mortar businesses can leverage Foursquare’s social, location-based service.

1. Create a special that provides a discount or freebie.

According to the National Retail Federation, the most important factor in 2012 in deciding where to shop is offers for sales and discounts.

Create a special that rewards a check-in with money off select items or buy-one-get-one-free. Why? When a consumer checks-in, they are telling their entire friend network where they are. And when those friends use Explore on Foursquare (built for searching local businesses and points of interest), your store will index higher in search results.

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