Foursquare has proven pretty successful at making people do stuff they don’t really need to do. Checking in on Foursquare is like visiting a local museum or gallery: it will not save your life but it’s fun to do so once in a while. One reason, I think, Foursquare is popular is because of its reward system. In the recent 3.0 release a lot of new options have been added to earn points and be really cool.
I know a lot of places offer rewards to returning visitors, etc. Foursquare 3.0 takes this to the next level. Maybe among the many things they reward there’s one or two we could apply to the physical visitors of our museums.
- First visit to a venue
First times are always tricky: they determine if there will be a second or not. A good first impression rocks. Foursquare gives quite some points. A museum might give a special tour, flyer, or even a discount (as people do not yet know if it will be worth their money). “First time visitors enter for free. See if you will come again!”
- Returning visitors
Foursquare used to reward loyalty with turning you into a mayor and offering badges. Now they’re also handing out points for returning visits. My hairdresser does as well, with a nice discount if I come back within 4, 5 or 6 weeks. At museum, for instance a sign at the exit: “Don’t throw away your ticket, it’s worth a coffee next time you’re around.”
- Welcome back
One of the best new rewards in Foursquare 3.0 are the points awarded for returning after a long time (to playing the game, to a venue). It feels like Foursquare has personally waited for my return and that feels good. So, how about inviting people with old catalogues, flyers or tickets who are not friends or members to a special opening of a new exhibition?
- First of all your friends to go somewhere
Discovery is highly rewarded in Foursquare. Now, not only for finding new venues, but also for being the first of your friends to go somewhere. These ‘scouts’ are important for any venue, as they might tell friends to come as well.
- Coming in with a friend
Foursquare now rewards going with friends, especially if you’re new or loyal to the friend you’re joining. People in pairs are double the fun and double he opportunity to make new friends at your museum. Come with a friend and have a free drink, entrance to a reserved space, etc.
- Coming in with a long lost friend
Another really nice new reward is when you check in with a friend you haven’t checked in with for quite some time. Foursquare thinks it’s cool to renew old friendships! Shouldn’t a museum do that as well? We’re already a great place to make new friends, so there should be a market for long lost friends catered events.
- Joining the mayor on your visit
The mayor on Foursquare is the person who’s most been to a venue in recent months. To be a mayor sometimes is really cool and sometimes you get stuff. Now, you are also rewarded when you’re there when the mayor’s there. Of course, the ‘mayor’ of your museum knows about all the stuff the tour guides don’t want to tell: how about letting people know an experienced visitor is present? (They don’t mind.)
- “You finally came”
This one is not actually in Foursquare (as far as I know), but how about rewarding the people who visit your website, follow you on Twitter, are friends on Facebook, etc. when they finally actually visit your museum? Take it beyond the “follow us and get in for free” and make it something to really reward your online friends when they show up.
All this could, and should work for your online visitors as well, of course. Also, probably I’ve missed some of the new reward features. Please add them if you know of any others.
Have you done any of these, online or in your museum? I’d be curious to learn about your experiences.
Header photo by What What on Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA)