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Local Yoke II: Not FourSquares

FourSquare is a smartphone-based online location tracking service that offers users the ability to announce their check-ins at various business venues. It's like a real-time travel guidebook with complementary ankle bracelet. (Like moving pictures where you don't have to read anything? Me, too. FourSquare explains itself via a video accessible at its Home page.)  At base, FourSquare is a business review site that tracks users' regular appearances at various places (tantamount to consistent recommendations over time) and that allows users to post "tips" respecting visited businesses to their profiles/to those businesses' FourSquare pages. To encourage regular check-ins, FourSquare makes something of a game out of the whole thing: most check-ins at a location gets you elected "mayor"; plus, you can win merit-style badges for certain, site-defined activities and achievements. Businesses get into the act, too, registering FourSquare venue pages, and tying promotions and discounts to frequent check-ins. This is how FourSquare imagines businesses will interact with its service.

Sound silly? So does Farmville, but it has over 45 million active users. And, if you're on Facebook, you've been asked to adopt a black sheep at one time or another.

So, while law firms may not be able to/want to use FourSquare in all of its aspects:

  • Will you be tying discounts to your clients' regular visits to your office? Likely not.
  • Will you be checking in at various hotspots when you're on vacation? Perhaps not . . . not if you don't want your home robbed and office ransacked while you're away.
  • Will your criminal clients be regularly checking in online at your office? Not likely. Unless you happen to be away on vacation . . .

FourSquare can be a useful local marketing tool for lawyers. FourSquare's emphasis is distinctly on local search, wherever a potential client is with a smartphone being the defined locality. You can simply add or claim your business as a FourSquare venue (do it here), so that you can make and track check-ins and tips, generally and by using FourSquare's free analytics tools. And, beyond the smartphone tether, FourSquare venues even show up in Google and Bing local search results.

In an increasingly micro-mobile society, it's not difficult to imagine the scenario in which someone with a smartphone is close to the neighborhood of your office, and, at that moment, decides to search FourSquare for some iteration of "real estate lawyer." GPS grabs the location, and your office comes up in a list of FourSquare venues. And, hey, your potential client's chiropractor once used your firm, and offered a positive tip on the experience. That potential client has just become far more likely to utilize your services, merely because all you did was make yourself available on FourSquare.

Get hip to be FourSquare.

Tip courtesy of Jared Correia, Law Practice Management Advisor, Law Office Management Assistance Program.

Published April 7, 2011

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