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by • 13 Jan, 2011 • InspirationComments (4)33

Using Foursquare to make historical contents locally available (and reach new audiences)

Foursquare header

Ever since I first used Foursquare I’ve been looking for ways to use this platform for our museum. After some unsuccessful attempts, I believe we found a way to use Foursquare that might have potential and some conditions to use the platform well.

Our new website, and especially its integration of Google Maps, made it easy to add stories from our website to relevant places in Foursquare. About a month ago I’ve added 15 stories as tips to Foursquare. And it seems to work! Some of the tips have been done relatively often and between 0.05 and 0.1 % of our website traffic (wow!) now comes from Foursquare.

Here’s what I did (and/or should have done, looking back):

  1. I looked for things on our website (stories, etc.) directly related to a location.
  2. Then I looked for a venue on Foursquare at this location with a lot of check-ins (train stations seem to work best) and preferably not too much tips.
  3. I added a tip with the main body of the information of the story (the length of a tip is limited, so even when you add the core of your message it works like a teaser).
  4. To the tip, I added a URL. The last couple of them I’ve given the extra attribute ?source=4sq to be able to measure them in Google Analytics. (There’s no other way to measure the traffic from Foursquare as far as I know).
  5. I measure success using a special Advanced Segment for Foursquare (using the ?source=4sq).

I believe train stations are especially useful, because people spend time waiting at these places (opposed to for instance in a bar). Our most successful tip I added to a station and the attached story was about that station. The second most successful one deals with the history of brewing beer.

Surprisingly, it’s not only fun facts (such as the beer) that draw traffic. Also the more heavy historical tips draw traffic.

There’s no relation between the number of people who’ve indicated they’ve done a tip on Foursquare, and the number of visits to our website from the platform. I believe only very few people actually click the link for more information (this link is difficult to find). Therefore with new ones I make sure we tell what we want to tell in the tip itself, pointing to the link for more information.

The experiment has been successful enough so far to add more tips to Foursquare. This will provide more statistical information to determine what works and what not. I’m curious to hear about your experiments with Foursquare. Please let me know.

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  • Jan Klink

    We did a similar experiment : we have information and pictures of stained glass windows in buildings outside our museum. We made one of the buildings, a church, a venue in Foursquare and put a tip at the venue with a link to our pictures on Flickr. You can find the information on a stained glass window in the comment-part of the picture on Flickr. Flickr counts the number of views.

    Jan Klink
    museum voor vlakglas- en emaillekunst
    http://www.vlakglas-en-emaillekunst
    http://www.kerkramen.nl

    glas_en_emaille on twitter

  • http://themuseumofthefuture.com Jasper Visser

    Great idea Jan. Did this bring you more/different visitors than usually? Have you had comments on the project? Curious to learn about best practices.

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