Social CRM in Action – Foursquare

If you’re getting into this whole social CRM thing, but are not sure how it all comes together, a great example is Foursquare.

Foursquare takes a lot of social media concepts – Facebook, Meetups, Twitter, Yelp! etc. But it also has some interesting social and potential loyalty type marketing aspects. Essentially, users “check in” to the application via their mobile device after hitting up various points of interest in cities like NYC and San Francisco.

Think scavenger hunt meets Zagat meets social club. Once you check in to a place, you receive a “badge” noting that you have already been to this establishment. The idea is to collect all available badges – showing off to your friends in the Foursquare community that you know your city like a real native. (This appeals to the tourist or anti-tourist in all of us – don’t we all want to feel like we’ve conquered all a city has to offer? Or, don’t we want to have a free insiders guide to what’s really cool to see and do?)

It’s a great platform for people to discover a city – but I obviously see more here. By allowing sponsored content and sites (bars, clubs, museums, etc.) – the badges that users acquire could become currency of sorts – good for discounts and other special offers. Just as Google and Facebook turned their sites into advertising platforms, the notion behind Foursquare is the same. Relevant content pushed to a very captive audience – cool stuff.

There also another cool social CRM angle here – and that is in Foursquare’s operations. It’s a typical three person startup – so the marketing and sales budgets must be nonexistent. However, a strong Twitter presence and social media outreach enable Foursquare to do a lot of CRM-like processes for very little investment. For example – site outages are relayed (with appropriate apologies) to their nearly 6,000 Twitter followers as a sort of makeshift call center/self-service tool.

I see the kind of grassroots smarts these guys have, coupled with a cost-effective tool like Sugar being a huge way to perform a lot of traditional CRM processes, augmented by great social engagement strategies.

I’ll be keeping my eye on these guys to see if this platform evolves into a true advertising and promotion channel for restaurants, bars, clubs etc. in the 21 cities Foursquare is currently targeting.