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Suburbanized Foursquare Should Serve Chili's and Starbucks Well

  |  July 12, 2010   |  Comments

To the delight of retailers in strip malls and shopping plazas, the geo-location service plans to increase the distance range for which users can receive special offers.

Foursquare's 200-yard location range for special offers will soon be increased for lesser-populated locales, the geo-social company revealed in a blog last week. Retail chains like Chili's Bar & Grill and Starbucks - with locations in strip malls and shopping plazas - stand to benefit significantly. They will be able to pitch offers to consumers who may be nearby but still a stretch of parking lots away.

"We haven't actually extended the ranges for specials yet, but we will be extending them in suburban areas in the future," Foursquare spokesperson Erin Gleason told ClickZ. "Our goal is to surface more specials for users in less densely populated areas and also to allow businesses in these areas - including Chili's - to reach more Foursquare users."

Nicole Cochran, marketing director for Chili's, suggested that the increased location range could indeed help her brand's efforts on the geo-social platform. "It does sound like a promising way to better encourage our guests to visit a Chili's location," she said.

Last week, Chili's began testing an offer where customers who check in on Foursquare get a complimentary order of salsa and chips. (See the image below.) It's a noteworthy "special" so far on the geo-social platform, which has been seeing brands normally offer users free drinks or food only if they become "mayor" of a location.

In a classic loss-leader strategy, the Dallas-based restaurant chain hopes the geo-location service brings in customers more regularly to order meals and drinks. Cochran said the brand's 800 corporate-owned restaurants are offering the check-in freebie, but the test special is not appearing in its 450 franchise locations.

If the test goes well, the marketing director explained, Chili's will leverage social media channels to advertise the initiative - most notably pushing it to the brand's 400,000 Facebook fans/"People Like This." Cochran added, "Our fans across the country are clamoring for offers like this, and we are excited to bring it to them."


IFC And Huffington Post Deliver Tips to Foursquare Friends

Overall, New York-based Foursquare now has around 60 brands using its service to levy special offers. The Independent Film Channel (IFC) and Huffington Post are two of the latest to have gotten on board.

After becoming a Foursquare friend of either the IFC of the Huffington Post, users will receive tips about nearby locations of potential interest. Such locations will theoretically be building a virtual community with user recommendations on a location-by-location basis. Other brands like the History Channel have been employing the geo-social platform similarly for months.

Lastly, when comparing the IFC and Huffington Post, the former has been more aggressive in promoting its Foursquare presence than the latter. The cable movie channel brand - which also includes a theater in New York's Greenwich Village - has been pushing the geo-social service in display ads on IFC.com and in its weekly newsletters. Meanwhile, the Huffington Post has yet to incorporate Foursquare into either online medium.

Follow Christopher Heine on Twitter at @ChrisClickZ.


Christopher Heine

Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.

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