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What’s Foursquare & Why Should I Care?

Posted by | 3:20pm on Monday, August 2, 2010

there will be a pharmaceutical brand that will have a compelling use for this type of technology 

I’m not embarrassed to admit it: I love Foursquare. It may be a silly game, but it shows how technology – and society – is evolving and how location-based services will be part of our future.

Forrester Research recently found that only 4% of U.S. online adults have ever used location-based mobile apps like Foursquare, Gowalla and Loopt. The majority of users are males age 19-35 and Forrester recommends that most brand marketers wait for a larger audience before engaging. Others endorse jumping in now. I’m not suggesting that pharma brands should start using Foursquare, however it is important to learn about new marketing tactics so we can adapt them for our unique industry.

What is Foursquare?
Foursquare is a location-based social application. Go to Foursquare.com, create a free profile and download the mobile application to your Smartphone. The next time you are out, open the app to use your phone’s geolocator to show places near you and “check-in” at your location. You can also give permission to your friends on Foursquare to allow them see your location and vice versa.

Free Beer
You become the “Mayor” when you check in at a location the most. Businesses are using Foursquare for promotion, so if you check in or become the Mayor you may get a free beer, dessert or t-shirt. Foursquare also has fun badges earned for checking in at a variety of places. For example, I’m particularly proud of my Don’t Stop Believin’ badge for checking into three different venues tagged as karaoke in a month.

Increasingly, the “Special Nearby” box alerts me to a discount at a retailer, such as Whole Foods. By checking in on Foursquare I’m basically raising my hand to local businesses and telling them to market to me.

As with all things, common sense should prevail. Only check in at public places (never a private home) or at a job interview. But the millions of users of location-based apps are proof that people are willing to give up information (and a little privacy) for the sake of competition, fun and discounts.

Why Should Pharma Care?
In the future there will be a pharmaceutical brand that will have a compelling use for this type of technology. Jonathan Richman wrote about the idea of adding Foursquare-type competition to get people to track medicine or using pharmacy refill data as a surrogate for adherence. Someone creative will use it as a solution to add value for patients or healthcare providers. I look forward to that day and possibly being part of it. In the meantime, I suggest trying location-based technology in your personal life so you are familiar with it and open to the possibilities.

(Special thanks to Annie Heckenberger who introduced me to Foursquare.)

This post was contributed by Eileen O’Brien, Director of Search & Innovation for Siren Interactive. You can connect with her on Twitter at @eileenobrien.

(Image courtesy of dpstyles on Flickr)

About Eileen O'Brien

Eileen has more than 16 years of digital healthcare marketing experience. She is an opinion leader on social media and biopharma, and has been invited to speak at industry conferences and quoted in publications.

View other posts from Eileen

14 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

    03 August 2010 at 7:08pm
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  • 03 August 2010 at 7:08pm
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  • 04 August 2010 at 12:08am
    Interesting..which type of ...
  • Dan London
  • 04 August 2010 at 1:08am
    R U all on it? RT @mchiaviello: RT ...
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  • 18 August 2010 at 1:08am
    [...] What’s Foursquare & Why Should I Care from Siren Interactive ...
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  • 16 September 2010 at 1:09am
    @coreyrawdon Love your idea. Would ...
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  • 21 March 2011 at 4:03pm
    [...] also ties in with another SXSW theme: local targeting and geotargeting. See a previous post on geotargeting to learn more about ...
  • Micro-Targeting Health at SXSW | SIRENSONG
  • http://www.searchandsocialmedia.com Ian Orekondy

    Hi Eileen -

    I’ve been thinking about this too!! Another way pharma may be able to leverage Foursquare: conferences / events.

    1. They could create a “venue” at their booth and encourage Foursquare users who visit to check in, which would create deeper engagement. It could also help drive more booth traffic to the degree that other attendees are also on FourSquare and are friends with other attendees.

    2. They could simply add a “tip” to the conference venue on FourSquare, assuming another party already created a custom venue specifically for that conference. The “tip” could simply promote whatever is being featured at the booth in order to generate more interest and booth traffic.

    3. More advanced: similar to what Intel did at CES, they could partner with Foursquare to develop a custom badge. To unlock the badge (and get the social recognition rewards) attendees would have to check in at multiple booths or speaker sessions, or even multiple conferences. For more info on Intel’s Foursquare badge, check out: http://foursquare.com/intel

    Which pharma company do you think will be first to engage with stakeholders on FourSquare?

    Ian Orekondy

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  • http://twitter.com/eileenobrien Eileen O’Brien

    Last night Facebook launched their “Places” application: http://bit.ly/bJBpd0. I updated my iPhone Facebook app and tried to check in this morning, but got the message “coming to your area soon.” I’m in Philadelphia, the 6th largest US city.

    After I tweeted this, Sally Church responded that she was .5 miles from Manhattan and she also couldn’t get access. I’m not sure why they announced this when most of the US can’t access it!

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