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MoreSquare: More about Foursquare

Since Jared’s most recent Tip of the Week undoubtedly piqued your interest in Foursquare, we are, of course, providing an extended look at its potential utility for attorneys.

Foursquare is a two-way street, of course: There are the businesses that claim their locations and manage the corresponding accounts; and there are those who check into locations. That makes two distinct decisions for an attorney operating his/her firm:

(1) Do you want to utilize Foursquare’s marketing potential as a business?
(2) Do you want to use it as an individual by checking into places?

Marketing via Foursquare as a Business.

There are a couple obvious ways and some potentially more creative ways to market your firm using Foursquare.

Jared identified the most basic form of Foursquare marketing in his tip: A Foursquare listing, particularly along with shouts and reviews, increases SEO value. This seems like a worthwhile endeavor, since it necessitates doing nothing more than setting up your Foursquare account and perhaps a link soliciting Foursquare reviews on your website and in a few tweets. You are on Twitter, right? Jared and Rodney are.

Foursquare marketing very commonly involves offering discounted services or products. The most basic, and probably most sensible, way for an attorney to engage in this realm would be to offer a discount in order to encourage a single check-in, shout, or a review. While not a grand-scale marketing campaign, such an effort would publicize your firm name among your clients’ networks and drive your SEO value a bit.

Campaigns that are a bit more aggressive, yet less tailored for use by law firms, capitalize on consumers’ impulse- and convenience-driven decision-making, which is made possible by geotagging. Geotagging facilitates the following example of this type of Foursquare marketing: A user checks into Whole Foods at Charles River Plaza and a coupon for BoYo pops up. I don’t think I’d ever be persuaded to stop into a law firm just because I’m nearby and/or because there’s a little deal. But, then again, say a person checks into a funeral home, and your firm, specializing in wills and estates is a block away… A little dark, but, there may be a point there.

A third variety of Foursquare marketing campaign seizes on customer loyalty by rewarding repeat check-ins. Essentially a frequent-buyer card gone digital, this strategy is ill-suited for businesses used only on necessary occasions. If you can think of a way to make this useful for a law firm, we most certainly encourage non-spam comments here at the Mass LOMAP Blog. Have at it.

Now, I will quickly throw out some more creative ways a law firm might make use of Foursquare’s marketing potential (none of which I thought of); consider offering discounts, free stuff, etc.:

  • Making a presentation? Holding a seminar? Organize a swarm.
  • At a conference or convention? Make a venue for your booth.
  • Try to get in on Foursquare’s broadcasting partnerships with third parties.

You can’t look at all the above without seriously wondering whether the time it takes to create such campaigns could possibly be worth it, particularly as an attorney, taking time away from doing work for clients. So, I’d caution in favor of a little cost-benefit analysis before investing the time into any of the above efforts. You were going to do that anyway. I know.

And, before determining if anything is worth your time, you’d hopefully think about potential ethical issues. There is little literature guiding the attorney’s use of Foursquare; but, I’ll include what we’ve managed to find closer to the end of this post.

And one last thing here, 3 Geeks makes a good point in suggesting that a law firm should be concerned about other firms seeing who their patrons are. I don’t think Foursquare visitors are so different from Facebook fans or Twitter followers that you’d want to sacrifice its marketing potential altogether; but, that’s your call.

Marketing via Foursquare as an Individual.

The other side of Foursquare is that of the individual who checks into locations. An attorney, perhaps particularly one in a solo or small practice, might consider their check-ins to be something of a potential marketing tool. Ridiculous? Maybe. But, maybe the “Hey, everybody! Come see how hard I work!!” strategy would pay off. Or, it might annoy people. Roll the dice, if you please.

These check-ins take fractions of seconds, so I look at this as less of a time-focused cost-benefit analysis, and more of a risk-focused cost-benefit analysis. A fine transition into the ethical implications of Foursquare for attorneys.

A post on the Lawyerist Blog does a good job highlighting some potential sources of ethical issues of social media, generally, and it is rather on-point for Foursquare, specifically. The Bottom Line Law Group illustrates one of those issues in its “Ethics Tips for Lawyers Using Social Media”. And although Foursquare check-ins are now encrypted by default, there is still a privacy loophole that could definitely threaten an attorney’s maintenance of client confidentiality. It might be wise to think through a variety of hypothetical situations, and create a Foursquare-specific social media policy.

And, there’s this “Lawyer’s Guide to Foursquare & Yelp” out of Florida that says nothing of ethics except that “bar advertising regulations presumably apply” to the description a firm writes for itself. Okay, there’s that.

Finally, it never hurts for a business to consider showing support for a cause, and there’s a way to do that using Foursquare, too.
Foursquare has quite the range of marketing possibilities. As with any decision, a firm should let its unique situation dictate what extent of Foursquare’s potential it should engage. And again, as with any use of social media, a firm should approach its use with cautious regard to ethical considerations.