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A few months back I wrote a blog post about Location-Based Services being the next big thing in Social Media. While they have continued to grow in popularity among consumers, many businesses have struggled with the frustrating barriers to entry. In the past, Foursquare business pages were limited to well-known brands with large budgets. Foursquare would actually hand-make customized pages for brands (about 3000 of them) which was a very time consuming and tedious process.

Last week, Foursquare announced that they are making their business pages self-serve. Not only is this great news for the Foursquare developers, but also for thousands of small businesses around the world. Now any business can create and manage their own Page, accumulate followers, provide tips, check in and communicate with their audience. Furthermore, the new Pages also allow entire teams of people to manage a Page, instead of only one individual.

Why Should My Business Use Foursquare?

Some people out there will say “Who cares? Does anyone even use Foursquare? Why does this matter to me?” Okay, Foursquare is no Facebook. They don’t have 750 million active users. Every customer that walks through your door won’t check-in, read tips and make recommendations. But just because you wouldn’t use Foursquare, doesn’t mean that others won’t. Trust me, as a Foursquare user I check-in and leave tips all the time. Before visiting a new restaurant, for example, I will read the tips. It helps me know whether I want to go or not, or what to order (or not to order) when I get there.

Here’s an example. I love finding new restaurants and trying new foods. So when I saw a Groupon for $13 for $25 worth of food and drink at Pelican Fishery and Grill on Bank Street, I bought it with the intention of going and trying a variety of appetizers. Last week a friend and I hopped in the car with my Groupon and drove out to the restaurant. On the drive over I decided to read some tips on Foursquare. The very first tip I read was from Metro News, a free local newspaper.

I found this interesting. I was going there to visit the grill for food, not to pick up fresh fish in the market. I was put off a bit – suddenly I was not looking forward to eating at the Pelican as much as I was before. But then I read the response from Pelican Fishery and Grill’s Fishmonger, Jim.

Jim’s response was real and human. He understands that they are not always perfect and that everyone has an off day. He addressed the negative review head on and invited the unsatisfied customer back for a free lunch to prove his worth. This response totally restored my confidence in the restaurant. When I arrived we got a bottle of wine and a few appetizers. They were so delicious that we both ended up ordering a meal. By the end of it all we ended up spending $75 on top of the $25 Groupon. And I left a tip on Foursquare.

The Pelican Fishery and Grill used Groupon to get me into their restaurant and used Foursquare to manage my expectations and give me recommendations on how to spend my money. Well done guys – I will be coming back.

When it is all said and done, everything comes down to customer service. If every customer matters to you, then you won’t care if only 5% of your customers check-in or leave tips on Foursquare. That 5% still matters. And maybe it is more than that. But if you are not there, you will never know. Out of sight out of mind is not a good strategy when it comes to Social Media. Start monitoring your brand, and listening to your customers. It makes a huge difference.

Do you use Foursquare to promote and manage your business online?