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Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes a how to guide

The last post discussed the usage of NFC Tags for marketing purposes and included a video showing Foursquare check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes. We received a few emails asking how to implement these. Here is a quick guide.

Why do you need Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes

One of our Foursquare check-in best practices recommends informing customers that they can check-in with Foursquare and the rewards they can get from doing so. Many businesses have the traditional light blue cling on the front window. The challenge is that the procedure to take a phone, open the app, wait for location acquisition, look for the venue, check-in, and confirm is long and tedious. In many cases, a customer may prefer to “leave it for next time”, particularly when not offered any special rewards to check-in. The problem is that the majority of the stores do not promote their specials outside the app. Even so if they have one, the customer doesn’t know about it and probably will not open the app.
Therefore, there needs to be a streamlined check-in process that makes it as easy and fast as possible. At the end of the day, this directly influences your customer’s experience.

Before we get started:

Before detailing how to facilitate Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes, consider the following:

  1. Promote the Check-ins outside AND inside your business.
  2. Inform your customers about your specials in Foursquare outside the app. The specials have a double function to attract customers to your business and to create a positive customer experience.

How do you facilitate Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes

For this example we will use the PROHIBITION Bar on 503 Columbus Avenue in New York as the MENG’s annual summer cocktail bash will be held there next month.
This is what you see when you look at a regular browser for this venue in Foursquare:

Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes

Foursquare check-in – looking for the venue ID

Take a note of the URL: “https://foursquare.com/v/prohibition/3fd66200f964a5203be81ee3″. The number at the end “3fd66200f964a5203be81ee3″ identifies this particular venue. We will use the base URL “http://m.foursquare.com/venue/” to create Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes. In our case this will be: http://m.foursquare.com/venue/3fd66200f964a5203be81ee3 for both the NFC and QR Codes.

Using QR Codes to Check-in with Foursquare

We are assuming that you have already read our best practices for QR Codes and will therefore go directly to the process.
To create this QR Code, I used a free service provided by QR Code Monkey because they allow me to easily include a logo as part of the QR Code.

Foursquare Check-ins with QR Codes

In this screen, enter the URL we created before, upload your logo, and press Create QR Code.
The picture below shows the QR Code that was generated. Note that when scanned the code leads to the appropriate Foursquare venue.

Using QR Codes to Check-in with Foursquare

Using NFC Tags to Check-in with Foursquare

We are assuming that you have already read our previous post on how to use NFC for marketing purposes and will go directly to the process.
In order to create the NFC Tag you will need:

  1. A NFC Tag that you can buy through many different online stores.
  2. A phone with NFC capabilities.
  3. An app to write the information on the NFC Tag.

There are many apps in the playstore that program NFC tags. If you use an app that is a task launcher, your customer will need to download the same task launcher before they can read the tag. This defies the whole purpose of an NFC Tag which is speed and simplicity.
For this exercise I used an App called TagWriter from NXP. This app allows you to write data that doesn’t require any task launcher to read it.
This is the process:

Using NFC Tags to Check-in with Foursquare

Using NFC Tags to Check-in with Foursquare steps 1 to 3

Using NFC Tags to Check-in with Foursquare

Using NFC Tags to Check-in with Foursquare steps 4 to 6

  1. Open the app TagWriter.
  2. Select “Create, Write and Store”.
  3. From the list select URI (do not select Bookmark).
  4. Enter the URL address we prepared.
  5. Put the phone on top of the NFC Tag.
  6. Close the app and put your phone on top of the tag to make sure the NFC Tag sends you to the right place.

Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes – Conclusion

We have now described here two different ways on how to facilitate Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes.
After you create the appropriate QR Code and program the NFC Tag, you need to embed them in a nice poster, coasters for the bar, or small tents for the tables. You need to determine the right specials for your customers and promote them throughout your advertising. As you can see, after we solved the technology part, there is still a huge marketing job to do.

If you have enjoyed this article, learned something, or even tried out your own NFC Tag or QR Code, please leave a comment, share your experience, ask a question or pass it along to your colleagues and friends. Thank you!

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About Claudio Schapsis

Claudio Schapsis is a market driven technology evangelist integrating cutting-edge technologies into marketing strategies, particularly in areas of digital/mobile marketing, Location Based Marketing, and Location Based Services (LBS). For his pioneering approach to the mobile marketing practice and the integration of new technologies Schapsis has been invited to speak in more than 20 professional conferences and universities such as Columbia University, Pace University, Fordham University, Howe School of Technology Management, and others. Follow Claudio Schapsis on Twitter: @schapsis

4 Responses to "Foursquare Check-ins with NFC Tags and QR Codes a how to guide"

  • Chris Thompson
    July 25, 2013 - 1:49 pm Reply

    This method works great if all your visitors are Android users, but could really aggravate iPhone users since it just dumps them into the ancient Foursquare mobile site (where they’ll have to log in before checking in) instead of the app. Sadly there’s no way to make it work with both platforms.

    • Claudio
      July 25, 2013 - 3:24 pm Reply

      Thanks a lot for your comment!
      I agree, QR Codes are far from being a perfect solution.
      The redirection to the old Foursquare site usually happens when the QR Code reader you use utilizes an internal browser. If the QR Code reader doesn’t utilize an internal browser (depending on the reader) it will open the app. Check the video on my previous post . I show exactly what you describe, but when I change to Red Laser QR Code reader works fine.
      In that post I also mention the limitations on this type of solutions, and the rumors about iPhone 5s including NFC. Perhaps the solution is to use only NFC, targeting just Android users, and see if the next iPhone generation includes NFC. Until then we may need to include both and ask the customers tap or scan…

  • TIm
    August 29, 2013 - 9:24 am Reply

    I love using NFC or QR codes for check-ins, really is just free advertising, and the best kind at that. For any other readers who might be interested in reading up on some NFC best practices before implementing such a campaign you might check this article out here… http://qfuse.com/blog/4-nfc-best-practices/

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