A New Opportunity for ECPs:
Brand Pages on Foursquare

By

By Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO

TAMPA, Fla.—While Google+ continues to capture headlines, most recently with the rollout of Google's games, Foursquare has quietly announced a change that more directly benefits ECPs. Businesses have the option of creating and maintaining brand pages now on the location-based mobile platform. By "checking in" via a smartphone app or SMS, users share their location with friends while collecting points and virtual badges.

Foursquare brand pages are similar to Facebook Pages for the location based service. This is an important change and it reflects that now that Foursquare has over 10 million users, the time is right for Foursquare to spend more time and effort developing relationships with businesses of all sizes.

Until now, optometrists and opticians previously had the option of marketing with Foursquare only as a physical location, known a venue. Patients "check in" the practice and share this information with friends on other social networks. As an example, you can see my practice venue and some of the ways we use the venue to market the practice.

But there are limitations to a venue account. They aren't mobile. Practice venues can't check in at other locations and cannot leave comments, called tips, for other businesses. In turn some businesses created a personal account to use professionally, which caused confusion. To solve this problem, Foursquare created brand accounts to provide some of the personal account features for businesses.

Originally, only very large companies like Intel, Starbucks, and CNN had brand accounts. Unfortunately, there was a complicated application process and long delays for official foursquare approval. However, the new self-service process is easy to use and opens it up to any small business. While businesses do not have to have a Foursquare venue, it does require a practice, not personal, Twitter account.

Setting up a Foursquare brand account allows your practice brand to get noticed in new ways:

  • Use tips at your practice location to showcase specific elements you wish to promote such as specialty areas of care, featured brands, and Foursquare specials.
  • Use tips at the locations of business partners to highlight your relationship with them and the excellent service they provide.
  • Support neighborhood businesses with local tips. They'll recognize this and reciprocate.
  • If your practice sponsors or participates in local events, use your brand page to check in to the event early so people that participants will notice your involvement.
  • Be sure to allow your page to be featured in Foursquare's brand page gallery!

If Foursquare is popular in your area, it makes sense to take advantage of this free marketing opportunity. To get started read this setup guide from Foursquare. Cnet's step-by-step guide is also helpful. And feel free to ask me any questions at Doc@BrightEyesTampa.com.

Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD, FAAO, Bright Eyes Family Vision Care, Tampa, Fla., is an optometrist specializing in the vision of infants and children. A social media evangelist, he helped create "Peripheral Vision" which educates eyecare professionals about social media. Dr. Warford was a speaker at the first CLICK Conference last year and is ALSO on the program for this year's Sept. 22 event. He is the chair of the social media committee of the College of Optometrists in Vision Development and is chair of the Florida Optometric Association's Children's Vision Committee. He founded Foursquare Day in March 2010.