This post is by Alison McCarthy. She's an intern at Hypebot.
In an interview at MIDEM, Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai said the location-based social network is now valued at more than $250 million with over 6 million users, potentially increasing to 10 million by June. Though Foursquare is now seeing increased competition from Facebook and Twitter which have both recently integrated their own location-based services, Foursquare's staggering growth in 2010 looks like it will continue to flourish into 2011.
Where's The Music?
Foursquare describes its goal as "getting users out of the house," and one way in which they do this is by offering local businesses a Merchant Platform to attract and retain customers.
Through this platform, a user checks in at a specific venue and is presented with a special offer – usually a mobile coupon, small prize or discount – to entice them to keep coming back. In addition, brands (either with physical locations or without) can create their own profiles to further interact with customers.
Just this past year, brands such as MTV, Vh1, Bravo, Huffington Post, and Zagat, among many others, have all signed on to integrate Foursquare into their social networking activity.
But I can't help but wonder: where are the bands, artists, and labels?
I see Foursquare as a great potential here – especially for those looking to build a loyal fanbase.
How Artists Can Use Foursquare:
1) Develop your personality: As seen through Kanye West's Twitter account, we love seeing our artists as real people, and Foursquare can also be used to humanize artists. He/she can check-in at other shows and concerts, clubs, restaurants – or even mundane places like gas stations, supermarkets, and laundromats – and give tips, make shout-outs, or upload photos to give fans a behind-the-scenes look at what life's like outside of the music box.
2) Promote live shows: As a helpful reminder, artists can check-in at the venue to remind fans that they're playing that night, announce when doors open, changes in set times, or preview song selections – encourage your fans to "get out of the house!"
3) Encourage fans to capture the moment: Artists can increase real-time participation by encouraging fans to upload photos or comments of a show while it's happening – adding yet another interactive platform to the event.
4) Interact with fans: Touring in a new city? Using the "Shout" feature, artists can ask for recommendations from fans on places to eat, stay, and play, or offer their own recommendations and tips.
5) Reward fans: Let's face it: everybody loves prizes. Set up a promotion where fans checked-in on Foursquare receive either a small prize (whether it's a sticker, pin, or free download) or discount at the merch booth. Create a special badge for fans who check-in at multiple shows or at recommended venues. Foursquare's Merchant Platform can be tailored to fit what's right for the artist.
Out of The House
While Foursquare may not have close to the user numbers that Facebook or Twitter may have (and some may be wary of privacy concerns right off the bat), as long as Foursquare continues to grow, the tools it can provide to artists are definitely worth considering. And after all the time we spend inside at our computers these days, isn't encouraging fans to "get out of the house" a great thing?