Foursquare Jumps on Paid Promotions Bandwagon with Small Biz Pilot

Foursquare promoted

Foursquare is following the lead of other social media sites with more promoted posts,  this time courting small businesses. The pilot program allows small businesses to pay for promoted listings which would appear to Foursquare users when those users are near a business’s location.

Based on a report about Foursquare Local Updates we published last year, the service appears similar to one the company rolled out then — with some obvious differences. The existing feature allows small businesses to send messages about deals, specials, new items or any other pertinent information to Foursquare users who were already loyal customers.

Now, for a fee, under this new program, small businesses will be able to reach Foursquare users who might not be customers yet.

One difference, of course, is the new Foursquare promoted listings would allow small businesses to reach out and lure in new customers more  proactively. This way, you can make potential customers aware of your business for the first time.

And of course, the new service is fee-based – you have to pay for promoted listings.  The fee is cost-per-action based, meaning the merchant pays only if someone taps on the promotion or checks in.  The existing Local Updates and Specials are free.

The new promoted listings are marked with the word “Promoted” next to them.

So far the new program appears to be a test or pilot program.  Foursquare is already working on promotions with select small businesses in the New York City area. reports Foursquare is allowing small business advertisers to select certain criteria based on user account profiles. That way, a fine dining restaurant, for example, could find customers who express an interest in restaurants via their profiles or through their previous check-ins.

KFC, Radioshack and several other national brands have been using this form of advertising on Foursquare for some time.  This latest Foursquare promoted listings advertising feature is now being rolled out to small businesses in a limited fashion in New York City, according to

Over 1,000,000 businesses use the Foursquare merchant platform today — a ready pool of potential advertisers for Foursquare to tap into.


Joshua Sophy Joshua Sophy is the Editor for Small Business Trends and the Head of Content Partnerships. A journalist with 20 years of experience in traditional and online media, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. He founded his own local newspaper, the Pottsville Free Press, covering his hometown.

3 Reactions
  1. Joshua,

    Well, it’s a great move, IMO. We as users, can actually benefit from the ads.

    For Foursquare, generating revenue is the next logical step to take – they have the user base and it’s time to start returning some of their investment via such promotions, IMO.

  2. good news