Foursquare check-ins might not be the new shiny thing anymore, but that doesn’t mean the service is any less relevant for brands. Earlier this year, the company split into two separate apps: one that’s focused on recommendations and local discover, and another (called Swarm) that will continue allowing consumers to check in and engage with friends.

Understandably, this division might have worried marketers — especially those that have already made a significant investment in building their Foursquare presence. However, there’s no reason to panic. In fact, there’s potential to reach and expose your brand to a whole new audience of consumers, and here’s why.

Smarter Recommendations and Big Data

As social media has evolved into a fully integrated facet of all serious marketing strategies, businesses have become hungry for more data. Looking at Foursquare in terms of big data, the service is still one of the more compelling social apps on the market. Not only does it have a wealth of hard location-based data, but it’s now collecting massive amounts of passive location data on its members as well.

Since its launch, Foursquare has built an impressive discovery and recommendation engine; however, much of that functionality was hidden behind the check-in. By splitting itself into two apps, and effectively removing the check-in from discovery, the company has essentially created the best of both worlds. Brands get more targeted exposure and less check-in noise while Foursquare still gets the data.

It’s important to point out that the new Foursquare app (coming later this summer) will still know where users are, but passively — individuals won’t be required to check in in order to share their location. Both apps, however, will work seamlessly together, meaning that check-ins from Swarm will still power the recommendations provided in the standalone app.

Non-Intrusive, Location-Aware Advertising

Although consumers are becoming increasingly more used to being targeted based on their location, there’s still a bit of a “creep factor” to receiving an ad seconds after checking in somewhere. But since Foursquare is now placing these ads in an app where people aren’t actively checking in, from an end-user perspective, it’s more acceptable to get a location-aware recommendation in the context of search. This creates a big opportunity for advertisers.

Currently, Foursquare ads are based on two criteria: whether a person is near your venue, and if they’re likely to become a customer. The latter is determined by an individual’s previously visited locations and/or whether they’ve searched for something related to your business. For example, if you’re a coffee shop, Foursquare knows that there are people in your area who like coffee but haven’t been to your cafe or who rarely visit.

Foursquare Ads: Real Results

Bliss Spa, one of the many businesses featured as a Foursquare ads success story, was faced with a challenge: to reach customers on the street and drive foot traffic to its second-floor NYC SoHo location. Despite being in a popular neighborhood, not being at street level has meant that many people walk by without noticing that the spa is there. In order to turn nearby shoppers into customers, Bliss Spa turned to Foursquare ads.

“Foursquare ads allow us to attract new customers and see an immediate response,” said Lisse Grullemans, social media coordinator for Bliss. “… You pay per action and it’s easy breezy.” At only $4.60 per check-in, with an average customer spending anywhere from $36 to $200, the return on investment was on average nearly 2500 percent. Its ad also saw high levels of engagement, costing only $1.38 for every tap.

You can read through nearly two dozen other advertising success stories on Foursquare for Business. Of course, these examples are pre-split, so we expect to see more additions once the new Foursquare standalone app is released later this summer.

[Image credit: Dierk Schaefer, Andres Nieto Porras]