Foursquare adds local updates

If you’re a business that uses Foursquare but has always longed for a way to use the service to lure in more potential customers via narrowcasted messaging, there’s some good news for you: The company today launched Local Updates, a way to allow you to do just that – and for regular users to be able to keep tabs on the locations within their immediate surroundings.

Describing the new service on the official Foursquare blog, the company wrote that users will “start seeing updates in your friends tab from the places where you’re a loyal customer,” describing the updates as “an easy way to keep up with news from places you frequent, including things like new specials, pictures of the latest shipment of shoes, or a serendipitous food truck appearance.” The best part of Local Updates, they added, “is there’s no extra work for you to do: we already know you care about a place if you’ve checked in often or liked it, and will show you updates from it when you’re in the same city. If you change your mind and don’t want updates from a business any more, you can turn them off with one tap.”

According to Foursquare product manager Noah Weiss, talking to VentureBeat, the new system offers significant benefit to companies using the service in terms of customer loyalty and brand management. “Merchants will be able to actually, for the first time, have a communication channel with customers within Foursquare and be able to hopefully help drive those people into their store,” he explained. Previously, Foursquare had lacked any real CRM software; this update is considered the first step towards a new paid media advertising platform that the company has been rumored to be developing for some months now (It was, at one point, rumored to launch last month).

Local Updates allow locations to send up to three pictures, a text message and news of new deals or promotions, with the messages only being received by current customers who are within a certain distances from the location and have checked into that location on the system a set number of times. Those updates will only exist in Google searches and user feeds, and won’t have any push notifications attached, according to Foursquare.

Amongst the companies already signed up for the service, according to the company, are chains such as H&M, Togo’s Sandwiches, Outback Steakhouse, and Wolfgang Puck; universities like University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of South Florida, Duke University, Texas A&M University, Indiana University-Bloomington, and Boston University, and also local New York establishments. Other locations will be able to join the service later this week as Foursquare rolls out Local Updates to a wide release. Just keep checking in for updates, you could say.

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