Getting charity shops on Foursquare

I’m a late adopter when it comes to the significance of mobile phones and geo-location. But like any late convert I’m rather passionate about them now.
Having just acquired a new smartphone (an Apple iPhone – yes, I know there are just as good alternative brands), I’m finally getting to try out geo-location service, game and social network Foursquare.
One of the first applications I can think for this is to highlight one’s proximity to charity shops, especially if those shops then start using Foursquare’s facility to promote a ‘special’ deal such as money off or a two for one offer. Imagine mobile phones actually encouraging you to enter a charity shop by offering a deal, or giving you a chance to be ‘Mayor’ or most regular customer there…
But before they can do that, these shops need to be discoverable on Foursquare. So, just how many charity shops are listed on Foursquare at the moment? How many charities with trading arms have uploaded details of all their shops? Do let me know in the comments below if you’d done this already.
I’m going to find out this afternoon by wandering the streets of Colchester, seeing how many charity shops pop up on Foursquare as I walk by.
I can think of lots of reasons that charity shops aren’t listed – low awareness of Foursquare and mobile/geo-location services amongst charity shop staff, lack of time, not a priority given relatively low numbers of Foursquare users, assumption that older charity shop customers won’t use these tools…
But given the number of smartphone users in the UK (by the end of 2010 mobileSQUARED estimates there will be 14.8 million smartphones in the UK), and the early successes of UK brands like Domino’s in making money from geo-location social media, then there comes a point when entry level activity becomes worth testing. Mashable.com reported yesterday that Domino’s UK Social Media Initiatives Help Increase Profits by 29%, with the comment that “The UK pizza retailer attributes social media initiatives and its Foursquare promotion for the gains”. We don’t have a figure for what proportion of income was generated by Foursquare, but it is significant that the company is acknowledging it played a part in that growth.
Maybe this is something that is so important that we shouldn’t leave it to charity staff to deal with. We could undertake a community mapping campaign across the country to start mapping the locations of all charity shops onto the Foursquare network. Unless of course, someone already has that data?
Charity supporters across the country could walk past their local charity shops and get it listed if it wasn’t already on Foursquare.
And, like my evangelism over the significance of Twitter to fundraisers, I’m happy to state that I’m not endorsing a particular company: I’m simply stressing the importance of the channel and opportunities that companies like Foursquare and Gowalla present to charities and fundraisers in particular.
So, when will you find out who is the Mayor of your charity shop? And how will you reward them for being your best customer? What do you mean, you don’t know who your best customers are?
www.foursquare.com