How often have we not asked a friend or acquaintance about references for a local business? From Restaurants to Physicians, we have always relied on the local word of mouth for validating our choices. Often I have relied on people to refer and if there is no reference or a negative reference I have not chosen that particular service.
Of late I have this feeling that Four Square is turning out to be the social media equivalent of the word of mouth. This is particularly a good method if you want references on places to visit, shopping and restaurants.
Let me focus more on the restaurant segment as I am a keen follower of the four square updates from them. Often I have bought food guides like the one brought out by times of India, to select a fine dining experience. Lately I have also started visiting websites for the same purpose. But last week, as I was upgrading the four square application on my blackberry, I received an update that one of my contacts had just ‘checked-in’ this restaurant and was enthralled by the experience. A ‘check-in’ in Four Square terms was that he has visited the facility and spent some time there.
I got curious and sent him a message on four square asking for some clarification and he responded with all the details. Now I did not know this person but he had just provided me with a good ‘word of mouth’ reference for this restaurant. I then proceeded to visit the place and was pleasantly surprised that the restaurant had lived up to the recommendation given by my contact on four square.
As I checked among my peers, Four Square was increasingly replacing the websites as online restaurant guide and the mobile applications were actually making the task simpler.
Set up in 2009 by Dennis Crawley and Naveen Selvadurai, Four Square has almost 30 million users, with more than 50 % outside the US. There are almost 3 Million ‘check-ins’ daily. For more on Four Square and how it operates, please visit the site here.
Also four square has tie ups with other businesses like New York Times, Zagat and American Express to offer deals. Facebook recently launched its check-in application as it felt the impact that Four Square was creating.
Well the future of the social media platforms will be at the cross section of the platforms like Google and mobile applications running on various platforms like Android and ios. At the present Four Square sits on that intersection giving marketers a voice in the location based selling. The insights that are available by using the Four Square application are immense.
The question is Are marketers ready to bite that bullet?