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Real-World Scavenger Hunts Can Benefit Online Businesses

By Jeff Epstein

Happy birthday, Foursquare! This free geolocation app was launched back in March 2009, and it’s sure grown a lot in the last four years! As of January 2013, Foursquare reported more than 30 million users around the world. And given its high potential for generating customer referrals, more than 1 million businesses have made it a key component of their social media strategy.

Perhaps you’re thinking, But my brand is online. There’s no utility for my company to use an offline mobile app. Not so. Like all things in social media, it just requires a little creative panache to bring in new business and referrals. And what better way to use a geolocation app than a citywide scavenger hunt?

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Not only do scavenger hunts create an immersive experience for your customers, but they also reach hordes of potential new customers offline. And thanks to new geolocation tools, they no longer require a huge amount of time to set up either. While the benefits of such a contest for a brick-and-mortar store are pretty obvious, they’re a little more nuanced for an ecommerce shop.

Imagine large groups of people traveling around the city to look for a particular tag with which to engage your brand. Pedestrians start taking notice and ask them what they’re looking for. Naturally, the searchers respond by saying they’re on a scavenger hunt for your company, thus generating offline buzz that will drive previously untapped customers to consider your brand.

There are also benefits to be gained from peer-to-peer referrals, as players will check in multiple times during the day, inevitably reaching the entirety of their Foursquare network. In fact, you could even reward fans who loop in new customers via the Foursquare campaign by giving them an easy way to share their involvement with the people in their network. Simply use referral rewards software to engage users by offering rewards for driving new participants to the hunt via social sharing. And the rewards don’t have to be monetary. For example, you can offer customers a small discount in exchange for getting three friends to check in at a particular location.

Customers don’t have to wait for their rewards (Foursquare calls them “specials”) until the end of the hunt either. Instead, you can offer rewards for doing certain actions that aren’t published online. Since the user receives a reward as soon as they’ve completed a task, this keeps them engaged with your scavenger hunt throughout the campaign.

Foursquare allows users to leave “tips” for others wherever they check in; the same thing can be done on your company’s Foursquare page. At each location on your scavenger hunt, leave a helpful tip and share about the strengths of your company with relevant content.

If you’re a subscription-commerce box company, you might direct users to check out the businesses that provide your selected products. This has an added benefit of building stronger relationships with offline businesses and expanding your reach beyond traditional social media channels. If you’re not a subscription company or if you want to try something different, simply leave a tip (based on the nature of the specific location) that directs fans to your rewards program.

Whatever strategy you choose, a scavenger hunt has the potential to generate crucial online word of mouth while engaging your entire customer network in a fun and creative offline activity.

Check out some big-name brands that have organized their own scavenger hunts to increase sales or brand awareness:

What are your thoughts? How can Foursquare help your brand?

Tags: Social Media, B2C

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