Foursquare launches new mobile app for business owners

The free iPhone and Android app is designed to make it eaiser for merchants to connect with customers

Foursquare has launched a new mobile app aimed at making it easier for the 1 million business owners using the service to connect and share news with customers.

The Foursquare for Business app is designed to give merchants a suite of tools to keep in touch with the 30 million people who use Foursquare right from their phone, the location-based social network said.

"When you're running around on the floor, it's hard to hop on a computer and post your latest happenings, like the spring collection that just arrived or your newest menu item," the company said today in a blog post announcing its launch.

With the new app, businesses can easily cross-post Foursquare updates to their Facebook and Twitter networks at the same time, and can also use the app to see recent check-ins, turn specials on and off and look at business data such as likes and top customers, the company said.

Several screen shots of how the app could be used were posted by Foursquare to its blog. One image, for instance, showed a post from The Gap announcing the in-store availability of a new style of pants, inviting customers to check in.

Foursquare's tools for merchants can be used by a variety of businesses whether it be a mom-and-pop shop or a national chain, the company claims.

But even if the new app's functionality seems relatively basic for Foursquare, which launched in 2009, it is still a powerful tool, said Daina Middleton, author of "Marketing in the Participation Age" and global CEO of Performics, a Chicago-based performance marketing agency.

What is most interesting about the app, she said, is its ability to enable better participation from customers. "For years, Foursquare has been collecting participant information -- recent check-ins, top customers and customer activity -- while business owners haven't had much opportunity to leverage and activate this data," she said.

"Even if it seems simple on its face, enabling business owners -- on their mobile devices -- to peek into participant activity in real-time can make a big difference," she added.

Foursquare for Business is available for free for iPhones and the Android operating system.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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Tags mobile applicationsInternet-based applications and servicesFoursquaresocial networkinginternetsocial mediabusiness managementmobile

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