This is a common question. Since users can “check in” on both services, what value does Foursquare bring against the sheer volume of people on Facebook? Let’s start with what Foursquare really is.  Foursquare is a location-based social network that’s been around for a few years. User click a check in button wherever they are and the GPS in their smartphone can tell their location.  If they’re at the local Sonic getting a burger, they’ll show the date and time they checked in and maybe some of their “follower’ friends will see and know they’re both in the same area. (that’s the idea anyway).

Foursquare MayorYou can also check in on Facebook as well, but there is a difference.  Foursquare uses more of a “gamification” aspect. On Foursquare you can earn “badges” “awards” and “points” for visiting different locations. If you check in enough times someplace, you can even be crowned the “mayor” of that location, such as a business.  This aspect can bring some pretty heavy traffic to Foursquare and it also gives a business the opportunity to capitalize.  Business ‘perks’ for the “mayor” of your location is a common way to help drive people into your store. The GPS on the smartphone knows if someone is physically near you so they can’t just check in from their home to cheat the system. Many businesses give discounts for people who check in on a certain day (The Gap has done this locally).  The game and competition is very popular with consumers and it’s a fantastic way for a business to engage with its customers.

With Facebook, you can check in, but it currently lacks a game quality like Foursquare.  The check in is merely just that, but it increases the chance a user can physically meet up with a friend.  Each service has it’s place, but Foursquare is still a valuable play of you want to take advantage of it. Plus, you can try it out without financial risk.

Check out this video that gives more detail on how small businesses can use Foursquare to grow their business:

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