Foursquare Mayor Competition: Leveling the Playing Field

June 9th, 2010 by Paula Keller

Last night I was ousted as Foursquare mayor of my new favorite watering hole by the owner.  Is this fair?

Foursquare Mayor Competition: Leveling the Playing Field

I think not. The red flag that popped in my head when I got the news via e-mail was not that my pride was hurt by losing my title, but that this is likely an issue across the board for Foursquare advertisers.

If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Foursquare or would like more information about how to conduct local business marketing on Foursquare, check out our previous blog post on the subject. The basic gist of mayorship is that a Foursquare user becomes mayor of an establishment by “checking in” more than anyone else in the previous 60 days.

Naturally, an owner or manager of a business is going to be at his place of business more than most customers (clearly there are exceptions to this), so, considering the fact that Foursquare is a “game,” would it be considered cheating for the owner to check in? Probably not, but it may be a good business and marketing decision to sit back and just be an observer when it comes to Foursquare competition on your home turf, especially if you are actively using it as a marketing tool.

This also brings up the question of whether or not your employees should check in when they come to work. Say an employee is the mayor and has 50 check-ins in the last 60 days, I’m not going to be motivated to compete for mayorship.

One Starbucks patron, as reported, was so appalled that a barista became mayor of one of the coffee giant’s locations that she filed a complaint with the company.

If you want to have a competition between employees of who works more, than that’s one thing. If you want to encourage customers to compete with each other for mayorship, and hence, come back again and again to defend their position, then it’s time for employees to just say no to Foursquare at work.

In addition to mayorial competitions encouraging top competitors to return to your business, an added bonus is that each time a user overtakes another as the mayor of your business, it is posted to each of the individual’s Facebook wall. Voilà! Free marketing.

While Starbucks basically told the disgruntled customer that there was nothing they could do, as marketing-oriented person, I would suggest highly encouraging your employees to keep it fair for the customers, because really, for most, there’s no bragging rights in being the mayor of your place of employment anyway. It’s likely that the check-ins of your employees would make it practically impossible for any customer, even a regular, to stand a chance to become mayor, and squashes that marketing and competition aspect of Foursquare for your business.