I first became enamored with Foursquare in December 2009 at Real Estate Connect in NYC. I was listening to our keynote speaker Dennis Crowley, and literally had an “aha” moment. Up until that point I had heard of Foursquare and even had the app on my phone, but didn’t really see the correlation to real estate. This was in late 2009 before Foursquare exploded onto the geolocation marketing scene.

Since then, Foursquare has been written up and featured on just about every major publication for the ground-breaking work they are doing. I love their concept of “check in, find your friends, explore your city.”

For a Realtor, I think Foursquare could be a great way to market themselves as the “local expert.” Who knows more about the local deli, or the best place for a cocktail, or a great family park better than a local real estate agent, right?

This year at Real Estate Connect NYC, one year after my Foursquare realization, I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew Shadbolt, Director of Interactive Product & Marketing at The Corcoran Group (@corcoran_group) in person. I had chatted with Matthew for sometime online, but had never met in real life. One of the things that really impressed me was what Matthew said about what they were doing at with Foursquare. Ironically, at Connect the year before, Matthew also had an “aha” moment with Foursquare and took that one idea and since then have been doing some truly amazing things with Foursquare. On a side note – that “one idea” completely epitomizes what Connect is all about – all it takes is one great idea to completely revolutionize your business.

The Corcoran Group now holds a coveted brand spot on Foursquare and to date they have over 1200 tips and almost 7000 followers!

I asked Matthew how Foursquare fits into their overall marketing, and he shared with me five ways that it does:

1. Foursquare is a natural extension of what we’ve been doing elsewhere in mobile for location-based marketing. Putting local Corcoran expertise into people’s hands in a venue and time-specific way is an incredibly powerful form of social marketing for us.

2. One of our core brand ideas is that the process of searching for a home is just as much about what’s outside of the 4 walls than it is inside. We believe that the idea of communicating ‘what’s nearby’ is a very powerful way of understanding a neighborhood, and sharing that information within Foursquare has been an exciting way to grow our brand’s presence within mobile platforms.

3. We don’t believe in selling within Foursquare. We do not post open houses or listings, and think that there are ethical issues in posting people’s homes as venues within the service.

4. Unfortunately, we also don’t ‘play’ Foursquare now that we’ve become a brand – for the first 12 months of using Foursquare, we were earning badges and mayorships like regular users, but since we’ve become a ‘brand’ within Foursquare, that part of the platform is no longer available. We’re still able to check in and post photos, but it’s always been about the venue tips for us, not badges or mayorships. Providing helpful information using Foursquare is our focus.

5. One thing we often get asked is why we’re not doing this on Yelp, given Yelp’s much larger user base. The main reason is that in order to post tips within Yelp, you have to be an individual, you can’t do it as a ‘brand’, so it’s tough to replicate our goals in using tip-based location apps if we can’t speak as the brokerage. I’ve seen individual agents have a lot of success within Yelp doing this as themselves though, we just don’t do it as an organization for that reason.

In addition, Foursquare is included in Corcoran’s overall social media agent education programs, and all new agents who join Corcoran are made aware of these initiatives as part of their ongoing efforts to help agents understand how mobile, social and video are part of their digital marketing arsenal.

Here is a video of Matthew explaining what they do with Foursquare at Corcoran:

(Can’t see the video, click here)

Are you using Foursquare? I’d love to get your opinion and feedback – please leave me a comment below!

Written by: Katie Lance, Social Media Director, Inman News, @katielance

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