Thinking about ways to generate buzz for a new branch? Well, there's an app for that-Foursquare.
Lake Jackson, Texas-based TDECU recently had some fun getting members and nonmembers alike through the doors of its new Pearland branch with the game.
Foursquare is a mobile-based application that allows users to check in wherever they go via smartphones like the iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid, and post tips or reviews. Starting the game is as easy as simply downloading the application. Users can also find friends who may also be playing through their Twitter and Facebook contact lists. When a user checks in at a location, a notification is sent to that user's friends on Foursquare, and points are earned for going to new places. Businesses not already listed on Foursquare can be added to the game by users. Each week a leader board is formed based on who has the most points, a tally that is reset each week. Making return visits can enable a user to unlock badges, receive special discounts or earn the title of "mayor" of the venue. The application even notifies users of local specials whenever they check in.
"I and others on our team had been using Foursquare for a while and really just having fun with it," said TDECU Director of Channel Integration Trey Reeme. "It got me thinking from a social media perspective that it's one of the first tools I've seen that blended online social networking with real world actions."
Likening Foursquare to a scavenger hunt, Reeme said the game was a good fit for promoting a new branch. One month prior to the grand opening, the $1.5 billion credit union launched a promotion offering a $250 VISA gift card to the Pearland branch mayor if he or she attended the event.
"We decided it might be a good way to direct traffic not just from existing members but from people who were using Foursquare at other locations because they'd see it pop up as soon as they were in the physical vicinity of the new branch," Reeme said. "For us it was a way to let members know about a new TDECU branch open in this area while also sending the message to people that use Foursquare that, hey, TDECU is here with you."
For a total promotion cost of $250, Reeme says it was a move worth trying and repeating sometime in the future. The Pearland branch mayor, who visited the branch seven times, turned out to be a longtime member and Reeme said they couldn't have handpicked a better person as mayor.
"One thing about Foursquare is that it is still in its infancy and you'd be hard pressed to name a more fringe promotion," Reeme said. "The typical user is an early adopter of new technology and is most active on networks like Twitter or Facebook. Basically, they are the talkers who let people know they love or hate a product, service [or] establishment and we want to reach that kind of person."
He added that this type of promotion is not one to which you can attribute, for example, increased loan volume, but from a guerilla marketing perspective he said he's confident TDECU got more than the $250 spent out of it.
"We saw in our network thousands of impressions from the message itself and the conversations generated spread beyond what we were saying through blogs and other social media outlets," Reeme said. "What always drives any of our social media efforts is that we do things that are worth talking about. If it isn't remarkable then don't expect people to talk about it. No other financial institution in our area has used Foursquare in this way and it was low cost so why not try it?"
Although Foursquare was a good fit for TDECU, Reeme said credit unions that aren't as Internet savvy might do better to concentrate on more important tasks such as improving their websites or learning how to use Twitter or Facebook effectively.