Foursquare has introduced a new feature for merchants, which will enable you to send updates about your business to nearby loyal customers.

Local Updates, which will roll out to businesses over the next week, can be a combination of text, up to three photos, and a Special. These will appear in an individual’s news feed (but only if he or she is in the same city as the business), on a merchant’s venue page, and after an individual checks in to a place.

Your customers can also engage with the updates by leaving comments or “liking” them. Although a sure-fire way to determine the effectiveness of your messages will be foot traffic to your business, these interactions can also be a helpful gauge.

Foursquare will identify loyal customers through their check-ins or explicit actions, such as “likes.” Then, the company will route your updates to customers already nearby your location — if you have a chain, you can specify which venue you’d like to target, or you can select all of them.

Several businesses and brands have already started sharing updates. These include national chains like H&M, universities like Boston University, and even local businesses like Luke’s Lobster and NYC Parks Department.

What sets Local Updates apart from other deal blasts is that, unlike Groupon and LivingSocial, you can share updates that don’t have an offer attached. For example, if your chef just created a new dish, you can entice loyal customers with a photo to swing by your restaurant for lunch that afternoon.

[Via: VentureBeat, Image credit: Sean Salmon]