Do you want Foursquare with that?

The most important concept in social media marketing that I’ve learned is that for efforts to be effective they should be connected to how the firm earns money. Having fans and creating engagements is great but when it’s not driving firm revenue in some way, shape or form it’s not useful.

That’s why when I read Mashable’s recent article about the McDonald’s head of Social Media Rick Wion celebrating a 33% increase in Foursquare check ins with a pilot program they ran I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to it. While the goal was apparently not to increase sales immediately this campaign could have been much cooler in seeing if McDonalds actions actually created an increase in sales( or not…).

How McDonalds could have measured the campaign (if they had wanted to):

McDonalds could have easily done one of two tests to see if this campaign was effective. First and probably most easy is that they could have just compared sales and check-in results from previous days for an extended time period to see if this 33% increase in check-ins actually led to an increase in money into stores. If revenue saw a significant jump when foursquare activity spiked (barring other variables) Mcdonalds would have at least some proof to try the campaign again.

The second test is running the campaign on a smaller scale comparing it between two similar markets. One would run the Foursquare campaign and the other would have no promotions. In the end, sales and check-in figures would be compared between the two. If the market with the Foursquare campaign saw an increase in check-ins along with revenues in comparison to the control market McDonald’s could further test this campaign and have it rolled out on a larger basis.

While I don’t know the full goal of the McDonalds Foursquare campaign I feel that despite the celebration within the Mashable article it’s still important to clarify that social media in business is not successful by engagements alone. If I would go on twitter or another network and tried giving away something for an audience action people would have jumped on it as well. In the end social media campaigns need to be attached to financial drivers because most companies can’t operate on foursquare check-ins alone. ;)

Do you have a question or comment ? Feel free to reach me at @kevrichard or

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  1. This check in thing won’t last forever, it’s a novelty for now, but “check in fatigue” will set in soon enough. Brands are smart to jump on board while everything is new and shiny though! I mean some of us used to actually click on Google AdSense ads too right ;)

  2. Kevin Richard

    As always thanks for the comment Jeremy! I wish I had a crystal ball to tell me which sites or trends go out of favor and which will go in! We’ll have to see when the usage of services like Foursquare drop off. Till then its just another tool in the toolbox.

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