Social Games to help you Live Local, Eat Local, Shop Local

Location based social games like Gowalla and Foursquare are putting businesses, cafes, bars and restaurants on your map. The experience is interactive and enables user driven content to be easily shared among others visiting the same location. Yelp.com is a huge recommendation engine mainly supporting US based businesses and still has little relevance to KIWI companies. 

Foursquare - one of a group of geography-based phone apps, including Gowalla, Brightkite and MyTown - has just reached a worldwide average of one "check-in" per second.

Foursquare aims to encourage people to explore their neighborhoods and then reward people for doing so. This is done by combining the friend-finder and social city guide elements with game mechanics. Users earn points, win mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favorites. 

Players can either use the Iphone App or their Mobile phone through the Web App to 'check in' to their location. You can then choose to update just Foursquare or Twitter and Facebook as well. Once checked in you'll see any special offers, who the mayor is and collect your points. Not sure where to go next? Just check the Places list to see what's listed near your current location.

Its one thing for a business to load themselves on Foursquare but what can you really do with it, how do you do that and what would really make this social game powerful for a local community?

Businesses can load themselves up at http://foursquare.com/businesses/, make sure you include your Twitter Name so you get messages when someone checks in to your location. And then add a Foursquare Special to your venue. 

You could do something like "Check in 5 times and we'll give you a free coffee" this would save you printing out those coffee cards. Or "For the Mayor we have a special treat, just ask the crew"

The interesting connections are made with the "Since you're near.. {your friend} suggests checking out...". This is one example why it's so important to have the Foursquare for Business section completed to get the most benefit from the game.

So to the crux of my mission today. We are starting to see local business associations feeding Twitter with local news, shop news and local event information. GREAT! There is huge value in sponsoring a "Live Local, Eat Local, Shop Local" campaign "Keep it green, Keep it local" is another slogan I have heard recently. Foursquare can actively help your business association share tips and advice for other businesses that are 'near' you.

So as a local business association or network Social games like Foursquare are very powerful tools. Quite simply add every business you possibly can in your local area to Foursquare, including the specials, tips and Mayor offers. Many businesses in Ponsonby, Auckland have been loaded up as locations. As more and more people check in to those locations, leaving tips the real value to start to multiply.

Those businesses that embrace this new technology will be the first to benefit from the social connectivity. Giapo Gelato on Queen St in Auckland and Mojo Coffee in the Old Bank Arcade are two early adopters that have embraced Social Games as a new way to connect and engage more customers. It's fun.

As with any Social Media tool, you need to promote that feature of your business, encourage everyone who visits your business with an Iphone to check in, explain to them they can gain access to special offers and become the Mayor!

So for a business association you could email Foursquare a Badge Suggestion that signifies the essence of your community whether its fashion, hospitality or art galleries. Visiting all these venues gives you the badge. Perhaps you could create a 'Tour Badge' for your town that unlocks a prize they can claim for the local Information Center. 

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