Case Study: Minneapolis Music Club Becomes a Foursquare Hot Spot

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Minneapolis isn’t a city that’s lacking for nightlife options, but First Avenue marketing coordinator Machen Davis believes her music club has been able to stand out from the pack by using location-based services as promotional tools and by turning the club’s Foursquare mayorships into a fierce competition.

First Avenue into one of the most checked-in-to nightlife venues in the world on Foursquare. What do you attribute that to?
We’ve hosted over 500 events at the club this past year. When you’re that busy, and busy with such high-demand events, you’re going to get a lot of check-ins. Also, I think people are more eager to share when they’re going to live concerts — as opposed to, you know, going out to eat or grocery shopping.

Tell me about your “Mayor Special.” Do you think people check in just to cash in on that?
There’s actually a pretty fierce competition for the mayorship. [First Avenue rewards the mayor with a free drink ticket for every check-in.] Everyone seems to be really into the drink ticket deal and it’s redeemed frequently. People keep a close eye on our Foursquare and if they think that it’s an employee that is now the mayor they will definitely let us know. That’s why employees now have to check-in to the “First Avenue Office.” We created the office account before Foursquare had the option to claim employees. We didn’t want to discourage [employees] from checking in, so we created an office account as a quick fix.

Given that almost 9,000 people have checked-in at First Avenue and your Twitter account has almost 13,000 followers, do you have any tips for cultivating a following online?
I think creating a voice that correlates with your brand is pretty key. Our audience knows that it’s a person directly from First Avenue [posting on Twitter], and not just some marketing firm. Give your fanbase some incentives for following you. We do ticket giveaways frequently and with every Mainroom show we do the #TweetTable where they can win a free upgrade to a VIP table.

Share some behind-the-scenes of what’s going on, too. Give your audience something that they connect to. But I think First Avenue is so popular with social media because of the events that we host. Our booking department works so hard and does an excellent job of getting premier acts to come through. When you are promoting these kinds of events, it’s not too hard to get people excited and talking about it.

What other types of advertising do you use besides social media?
In addition to social media we also stick with traditional print and radio advertising.

How does that compare, in terms of exposure?
With print ads you just assume that someone is paying attention to your ad. With social media, you actually know. You can see people directly interacting with it and see how many times a post has been viewed or shared. It’s so much more dynamic online. You get to see how excited someone is for a show, and if they have any questions they can get a quick response directly from us. It’s also great because you can type in a few keywords and target people who you know will be into the show.

Also, we’ve found [Twitter] to be crucial in announcing last minute information. Like with the unfortunate last minute Adele postponement [last week]. As soon as we found out that she was very ill and wasn’t able to perform that night, we announced it via social media and then shortly thereafter announced the rescheduled date. It’s just a great service that we can provide for our audience to give them the most up to date information and to be able to interact with them.

Are there any businesses that you look to for information on social media and marketing?
We definitely keep an eye on Mashable. They do a pretty excellent job of letting you know about new services and trends.

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.