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McDonald's Actual Foursquare Test Numbers: 2,865 Check-Ins

  |  September 20, 2010   |  Comments

The quick-serve brand created a lot of buzz last week when it attributed a 33 percent increase in foot traffic to Foursquare. But newly revealed raw numbers bring McDonald's test campaign back down to earth.

Hold your horses, Foursquare marketers. McDonald's nationwide Foursquare test campaign on April 16 generated 2,865 total check-ins, Rick Wion, social media director for the quick-serve brand, has told ClickZ.

In an e-mail relayed by a Foursquare spokesperson, Wion shed some light on one of the more circulated industry stories of last week where he was originally quoted as saying the pilot lifted foot traffic by a whopping 33 percent. He later clarified that there was a 33 percent lift in check-ins, not overall foot traffic.

Wion then further elaborated on the raw numbers during an e-mail exchange on Friday. "In the days leading up to the campaign, we were averaging roughly 1,800 check-ins per day," he said. "The day of the event, they spiked up to 2,865."

That's a one-day check-ins lift of around 60 percent. And according to Hoovers.com, McDonald's has around 14,000 U.S. locations. Hypothetically, if each check-in was recorded at a different McDonald’s location, then 20 percent of the chain's stores received one customer via Foursquare that day. However, it’s more likely that multiple check-ins occurred at singular urban locations - which means a much smaller percentage of the McDonald’s nationwide received part of the action.

Of course, those facts are sobering compared to a 33 percent jump in foot traffic nationwide.

McDonald's pilot, part of Foursquare's self-promotional "Foursquare Day" last spring, randomly rewarded check-ins on the geo-social platform with $5 or $10 gift cards. The Oak Brook, IL-based brand hasn't disclosed how many gift cards were distributed in the pilot.

But it seems like McDonald's may have achieved a good return on investment for an initiative that cost $1,000. If the check-ins actually purchased meals that day, the fast-food giant's loss-leader for their business was 35 cents per customer.

And Wion appears ready to do more with Foursquare.

"This was a pilot program that was executed as a first foray into this new social space," he said. "We have not done another Foursquare program since then, but we are looking at several different possibilities for future executions."

Update: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that .2 percent of McDonald's stores recorded a check-in.


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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