Why Foursquare Makes Sense For Small Towns

by Joanne Steele on August 2, 2011

IPhone user

Rachel and her IPhone "checking in.

My daughter, Rachel, and her IPhone visited us last week. Yes, for anyone under 40 these days, the smartphone has become an important member of the family.

It (the IPhone) was constantly busy checking maps, email, dates and times, reviews and occasionally, Foursquare.

Rachel was a lonely Foursquare checker-inner much of the time, but the few recommendations and comments that appeared were relevant and extremely useful for the rural tourism destinations we visited.

When there is only one restaurant in a small town, reading a comment from a local about a favorite menu item was helpful.

This experience got me to thinking about ways that location-based applications  could help small towns and rural tourism destinations.

Becky McCray at Small Town Survival wrote an excellent post that nails it. In “How do you make FourSquare relevant for small towns” she talks about how regular small town residents can help their town by checking in!

Locals with smartphones should get busy and check in to their favorite local businesses! My daughter, like everyone else with a smartphone, relies on online reviews and recommendations over advertising every time.

This is something that is quick and easy for a busy small local business owner to implement in three steps.

  1. Claim your business on location-based applications like Foursquare and Facebook Places.
  2. Offer some kind of a deal for anyone who “checks in.” – dollar off drinks or dessert or whatever – it’s a game! Be sure to educate your wait staff about handling check-ins.
  3. Ask your loyal customers to check in and leave recommendations. Post a sign “We’re on Foursquare or Facebook Places!” and watch for the action to take off.

When we were in working in southern Arkansas rural tourism towns this spring, the Pilot mini-mart was the top Foursquare hangout in the region. Students from the local college ended up doing major shopping there, vying for Mayor status.

And guess where we went for gas and snacks. We learned first hand that location-based applications are not just for restaurants and “trendy shops.”

Any good Foursquare stories to share?

Here are several past posts that might help you get started with location based applications.

Join the Foursquare Revolution and Put Your Small Town On the Map

Add Facebook Places, Facebook Deals to your Internet Marketing Plan


1 Christi Wharton August 8, 2011 at 7:38 am

Nice article Joanne. I’ve checked in places on Foursquare but haven’t found many local businesses actually utilizing it. I just posted an article: 5 Ways to Use Social Media Location Marketing. I too, would love to hear of rural businesses using location effectively.


2 Joanne Steele August 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

Thanks Christi. Feel free to make that a hot link to your article. It has some useful information that expands my post.

3 Herb Lawrence August 5, 2011 at 3:31 am

Thanks Joanne great article and on the mark especially for small rural towns, and those small businesses in hospitality industry. One thing I try to remind my small business friends in North-Central Arkansas is that maybe they aren’t using Foursquare BUT their tourist related customers coming from St. Louis, Chicago, etc. are… Think about what the customer wants. Loved the article keep em coming.

4 Joanne Steele August 5, 2011 at 10:37 am

Thanks Herb. Let me know if you have any business in your are that is effectively using Foursquare. I’d love to showcase an actual business and know you, the rural internet marketing guru of Arkansas might know of one.

5 Alexis August 4, 2011 at 1:28 pm

Nice post Joanne,
I’m also a Foursquare junkie, and I can’t get enough of it. I’m glad you see the value of businesses getting involved with their venue, and how it can help tourism and traffic. Your blog was suggested in #tourismchat today so I thought I’d check it out. I’ll be back for more insight for sure!


6 Joanne Steele August 5, 2011 at 10:40 am

Thanks Alexis. I’ll check out #tourismchat right away. Twitter is truly amazing!

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