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Foursquare- Tips on Playing the Game for Your Dealership

This past weekend my brother was in town visiting and the moment he walked into any store or bar he exclaimed, “Oh! I gotta check-in on Foursqaure! There might be deals!”  According to an Empathica survey, one in three consumers recently followed through with a recommendation made via social media. Foursquare is a valuable app that dealers can use to drive traffic to their dealership, offer an incentive to frequent your spot, and make recommendations.

Not familiar with Foursquare? Simply put Foursquare allows users to:

1) “Check-in” to different places or add new ones worth visiting
2) Let their presence be known to their contacts and the online community
3) Lay claim of ownership after multiple visits to the same location
4) Earn “badges” for usage levels
5) Leave tips and shouts for future visitors of the establishments

Social media outlets offer opportunities for companies to encourage brand engagement, taking it past an in-store experience to further validate their commitment to the customer. Here are some tips tfor your dealership  when using Foursquare:

  • Use Foursquare like a customer loyalty card. You can give customers a special discount after a certain number of check-ins at your store. For example, every time your customer comes in for an oil change and checks in, you can give them a 15%  discount. If they become the mayor (have the most check-ins) ,you can bump their discount to 20% or so. Make sure you set clear rules about how to redeem the offer,  such as a limit of one check-in per day.
  • Lure first-time visitors to your store with a special offer. Tell new customers about the discount or deal you offer when they show you their inaugural Foursquare check-in.
  • Actively request reviews and tips from customers and respond to their reviews in a timely manner. Also, you can reward a consumer with the best tip and showcase it on your social media sites.
  • Have employees check-in with FourSquare to give tips/shouts which let other customers checking in know what some recommended specials may be.
  • Remember that Foursquare is a game and that’s what makes it fun and addicting! Tap into this aspect of your customers.


It's time to, “ be there or be square.” You might not use Foursquare, but according to the the American Pulse Survey, based on a poll of 3,349 online adults in the US, 23.2% use Foursquare at least once a day or more often.  You can leverage the power of their social network by engaging them and finding cool ways to respond to their preferences.


Views: 764

Tags: Foursquare, dealerships, for, media, social, tips


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Comment by Tom Hawkins on May 16, 2012 at 12:54pm

Thanks, Ketty...Michael made it sound like that people check in places without visiting them.  He mentioned he is mayor of 9 competing dealerships....can't imagine he actually visits all of them to become my mind, driving by or even through the lot isn't a visit.  I am sure it will get more use in the future even in our small town.

Comment by Vicki ONeill on May 16, 2012 at 6:37am

Ralph does a great job at posting comments and photos of his whereabouts - kudos! And Eric is the "go to" guy for anything new and upcoming. He definitely has his finger on the pulse :) 

There are a plethora of opportunities for a dealership to leverage Foursquare and people checking in (add the Foursquare logo to your website, request a window cling to post at the dealership). Then create an experience - when checking in on FS, also post to Twitter and Facebook (brand extension plus opportunity to connect in other media), adding comments (test driving a car, service appt, who they are scheduled to see, etc.), multiple check-ins (encourages a tour of the dealership - check in at the sales department, service department and parts department), then follow-up with a comment to their post on Facebook (which now creates another venue for connecting and engagement of your page). Combine the interaction of this local, relevant audience with the dashboard/analytics you have access to as the "venue owner" and you have some powerful data to use. 

Great post, Ketty. I think there is so much opportunity with LBS / Foursquare in particular that we haven't even begun to understand the power of these mobile apps. As mobile use increases, so will the apps and how these mobile devices are used. Thanks for posting!

Comment by Ketty Colom on May 16, 2012 at 6:14am

@Tom if you offer incentives for check-ins people will add that app to their phone (its a free app) and check into your dealership no matter how big or small the community. (Especially if you have a service center.)  People really don't check into a place they are just passing by, they check into a place to see if there are any deals going on at the establishment they are at. 

Comment by Eric Miltsch on May 15, 2012 at 11:46pm
Thanks for the mention Ralph - you've leveraged the platform nicely.

I can't recommend location based services like FS enough. Where else can you create mobile specials, drive loyalty programs, increase customer evangelism, capture a portion of walk-in traffic traffic & get analytics - all for free?

As smartphone adoption continues its furious pace, more consumer will experiment with apps like Foursquare.

Nice post Ketty.
Comment by Bruce Etzcorn on May 15, 2012 at 8:30pm

Michael, that's funny... my wife rolls her eyes too, until I order an appetizer or desert that is free because of the check-in.

Like Ralph and Michael, I check-in to almost every place I go to. I've always thought that Foursquare has a place in the dealership. Dealers are always looking for new incentives to keep customers coming back for service and repeat sales and Foursquare provides it.

Foursquare works with companies to create Partner Badges too ( ) as a way to provide custom incentives and make your brand fun. You can set the criteria (as Ketty mentioned) and once met, your customers add another achievement to their list. Foursquare now provides Levels for achievements, so it is possible they could be awarded the badge again and again.

As a side benefit, as you all mentioned in the comments, your friends see that you are at [dealership] which is a great way to get into their circle and showcase social proof. Lastly, many of the people on Foursquare share they have earned a badge on Facebook and/or twitter so your name is spread everywhere.

This is a great post and I hope that some dealerships find it great too. From a Foursquare-er-er to another, I'll see you on the leader boards!

PS: I think Check-In based services are going to be much bigger in the future. Facebook has it (and has a similar feature for rewarding check-ins) and purchased a company called Gowalla a year or so ago that had a badge-like system too. If Facebook decided to leverage their network and invest into check-in marketing, this will become yet another digital necessity.

Comment by Adam Ross on May 15, 2012 at 8:03pm

Great advice! Same stuff I've been advising dealers for the past year or so... Thanks for posting this, Ketty. I will refer many dealers to look at it.

Comment by Tom Hawkins on May 15, 2012 at 7:21pm

We are in a small rural community of 11,000, so it's not highly used and no one comes to a car dealer frequently enough to build up many check-ins.  Michael, do you check in to places that you just pass by?  I assumed the point was to check-in at places you actually visit.  Do you encourage others to check-in at your dealership even when they aren't there?  Just curious if I am missing something....

Comment by Mike theCarGuy Correra on May 15, 2012 at 6:20pm

While probably not nearly as active as the 'Digital Rottweiler', Mr Paglia, I have been having fun with FourSquare for many years also. My wife rolls her eyes each time we go anywhere together and she sees me from the corner of her eye 'checking in'! I have created and manage place pages on FourSquare for both the dealership and my Internet Sales Dept, also I have created FourSquare 'event' check in for some of the fund raising events we have held in conjuntion with SADD and had many check ins from the students who participated. I also have run specials on it as well and offered hats and coffee mugs for repeat check ins, an effort to engage our Service and Parts repeat customers that has been pretty popular. There are many ways I see to utilize FourSquare for a dealership and admittedly I have only scratched the surface, but having fun while doing so!
Recently I have been using the stopped time while in traffic to find fun places to check in during my 2 1/2 hour commute. I am now the Mayor of some sections of the 10, 710, 60 and 91 freeways, also the Mayor of K1 Indoor Kart Racing, Autoclub Speedway, Montezumas Revenge at Knotts Berry Farm and the LA River! I have also been finding many dealers totally asleep at the wheel and am now Mayor of 9 OTHER dealerships! All of them on my second check in! I cant speak for anyone else but, if I checked our FourSquare page an saw that the Mayor of our dealership was named Mike theCarGuy and he worked for another dealership I would be pissed! I'm just sayin... :)
Great post on a much underutilized component of an effective, all around Social Media effort!


Comment by Tom Gorham on May 15, 2012 at 5:49pm

I'm a member of Foursquare but have never checked in.  I get notified all the time of my friends checking in (including Ralph).  I need to learn more about this. I feel so inadequate!

Comment by Ralph Paglia on May 15, 2012 at 4:34pm

I became addicted to Foursquare a few years ago after Eric Miltsch turned me on to it and responded to a forum discussion i created asking how the heck a dealer could possibly make use of Foursquare.  After redeeming dozens of coupons and special offers, plus the ability to update my team on my whereabouts, i am now a loyal Foursquare users (@RalphPaglia) checking in everywhere i go.  Many thanks to Ketty for a nice concise and eminently usable guide to getting started with using foursquare at a dealership!

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