Question: I want to start using services such as Foursquare and Facebook Places to market my store. What types of promotions and contests would you recommend I run to get traction and results?

Trevor Collins, TN

The following answers are provided by the Young Entrepreneur Council, a group founded by Scott Gerber to teach young people to build successful companies.

A. Offer something you would like as a customer

Ashley BodiWhen offering a promotion to customers always put yourself in their shoes. Would the promotion make you want to visit the store or use the service? Is it worth it to your business to offer the promotion? Make sure it’s beneficial to your business to offer it and make sure it’s something a customer take action with.

Ashley Bodi (@businessbeware) founder of

A. Exclusivity for fans

Kris RubyFacebook and Foursquare are particularly effective for marketing restaurants and B2C promotions. To get results, I would recommend offering fans and followers special promotions that are only available if you are a fan or follower of the store. Only enable your Facebook fans or Twitter followers to be eligible for contest entry and reward your Foursquare “Mayor” by giving them a special discount.

Kris Ruby (@sparlingruby), founder Ruby Media Group LLC

A. Offer Referral Incentives.

Tina WellsYour goal is to build an audience via these platforms, so your strategy must involve referrals. Offer discounts for every friend referred by a current customer. Also, make sure you have signage in your store to let your customers know you’re on Foursquare and Facebook Places. Include this info on receipts and include a promo card in the customer’s bag with each purchase.

Tina Wells (@fashiontw), founder

A. Check-in Discount!

Devesh DwivediStart with simple check-in discounts, i.e give a special discount to the customer who checks in your shop/venue over Foursquare or Places and then based on the success, customize the offers, may be a discount on certain number of visits or a particular service, for example – 2 drinks FREE at 2nd Check-in within a week or 50% off hair cut on every check-in today, can drive some additional footfall.

Devesh Dwivedi (@break9to5jail), founder

A. Makeover the Mayor for royal rewards.

Jason DuffAfter you setup your venue online be sure to create a special offer for your friends and fans who visit your business. You can post your special offer and even change it on a whim to keep tings exciting. A window decal for your front door is a great way to remind people of your visibility on and offline and don’t forget to treat the Mayor like royalty. You might even reward the mayor by putting them to work in your business for a day and introducing them as royalty.

Jason Duff (@jasonduff), founder Community Storage & Property, COMSTOR Outdoor

A. Go BIG!

Michael SinenskyOffer things that sound a lot bigger than what you’re actually giving away. Free items such as drinks or 50% off appetizers really attract new customers to try come in and try something new while your actual costs are nothing to sweat about. Figure out what costs you the least and then make it sound appealing–whether its free or deeply discounted–social media sites are a great way to get the word out.

Michael Sinensky (@msinensky), founder Fun Bars

A. Check in with a Friend

Matt WilsonChecking in on FourSquare and Facebook are great, but checking in with a friend is even better. Make an offer like a 20% off if they check in with a friend. This will not only encourage people to share on social media where they are but it asks the customer to directly recruit new customers to your store. This sparks both social media and word of mouth marketing.

Matt Wilson (@mattwilsontv), founder

A. Organize a Fun Scavenger Hunt

Natalie MacNeilA scavenger hunt is an excellent way to get traction as you incorporate Foursquare or Facebook Places into your social media marketing plan. Give clues for secret check-in locations that participants need to locate and check-in at. All clues can be related to your brand and the final location can be your store where you award prizes and interact with your customers.

Natalie MacNeil (@nataliemacneil), founder Imaginarius