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Will Businesses Really Use Foursquare’s New Self-Serve Check-In?

I will warn you on this one. I have tried to be a location-based services user but I lose interest real quickly. My erratic check-ins at restaurants or sporting events are more a result of me saying “I guess I could check in” or my wife checking in thus making me get competitive and making sure I am not one-upped by her. Not exactly the stuff of location based legend, I know.

That’s why when Foursquare announced that their business pages were becoming self-serve I had to actually educate myself as to what this meant. Since January of 2010 these pages have existed but the foursquare blog tells of the new option:

Today we’re making foursquare Pages self-serve (to the great relief of our BizDev team). Any brand, organization, or publication can now create their own Page, gain followers, share Tips, check in, and reach their fans. Join the likes ofMTV, the New York Times (NYSE: NYT), Tiffany & Co, NASA, and Scanwiches by creating a Page for your organization now!

There are a bunch of features that make this perfect for brands:

?¢ Reach the whole foursquare community with your Tips and check-ins (and push those check-ins to both Facebook Pages and Twitter).
?¢ Let entire teams of people manage the same Page. With our new tool, you can make multiple people Page ‘managers,’ so that they can all contribute. It’s perfect for big organizations.
?¢ From the web or your mobile phone, you can upload photos to your Tips and check-ins. It’s great for making them really shine for all of your followers.
?¢ And, when your page is complete and you’ve added a few Tips, you’ll be featured in our Page Gallery.

The post says that over 3,000 brands have established these pages so I decided to skim through the gallery. The one thing I noticed was a pretty low engagement factor based on the stats shown for many of the pages.

I came across the X Games page. I figured that since this event just happened this past weekend and the crowd would be the hipster, young crowd that is like totally dialed into all things Internet-y this would be a good gauge of how these things work. Here’s what I found.

For the Most Popular options it looks like the X Games used to do some location based action (although not huge numbers considering the 10 million user claim by the service).

Go over to the most recent tab and you would expect bigger numbers because of a growth in popularity and the games just having happened this past weekend. Instead you get this:

So what’s my point? Well, this kind of pattern happened a lot when I perused the business page gallery so it makes one wonder just what is the impact of a service like foursquare for a brand?

Location based services don’t make the headlines that they used to. There were once competitors to foursquare (outside of Facebook and maybe Google (NSDQ: GOOG) Latitude) like Gowalla (remember them?) but the activity doesn’t seem to get people as fired up as it once did.

Do you agree? Is this just a statement about the popularity of the particular event or of the service? What are you seeing in your business around LBS’s? Is there real opportunity there or is this one area where the hype outran the reality, at least for now?

If you are interested in exploring this option with foursquare further for your business or organization, you can get started here. Good luck and let us know how it goes.

Frank Reed is the managing editor of Marketing Pilgrim. He also provides consulting, speaking and education services relating to local Internet marketing through Local Basix. Frank contributes weekly to Mike Moran’s Biznology blog and he writes even less frequently at his original home base, Frank Thinking About Internet Marketing.

This article originally appeared in Marketing Pilgrim.

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