Posted by Martin Gregory of Legal Futures Associate Lateral Law 
Today, I begin a series looking at three of the less well known/utilised on-line applications. In the coming weeks, I will concentrate on Squidoo  and Hubpages  – tools that can help promote your law firm’s visibility on the World Wide Web, but I start with Foursquare , possibly the most intriguing and scaleable social media network to emerge in recent years.
Foursquare is a location-based service with a competitive edge that ultimately rewards its users, who “earn points, win Mayorships and unlock badges for trying new places and revisiting old favourites”. Businesses can “engage [their] increasingly mobile customers with… ‘Specials’, which are discounts and prizes you can offer your loyal customers when they check in… at your venue”. Specials come in a variety of forms, including those exclusive to the Mayor (your single most loyal customer), those based on the number of check-ins and wildcards, and are actively promoted by Foursquare.
I suppose the service is somewhat similar to Google Places, but the recommendations depend on the user’s actual physical location, as opposed to their virtual search area. Furthermore, Foursquare is, of course, interactive as a social network and “game”.
So, what has all of this got to do with solicitors? Well, it is certainly true that most venues appear to be retail based. Domino’s Pizza, for example, has a number of listings for each of its franchises, all promoting Specials such as “Free dessert when you buy a meal deal on your 3rd check-in!”. However, a search for “solicitors” found 27 venues. Some even have Mayors and/or positive feedback in the form of “tips”, which in one case (Fridays Property Lawyers) alerted users to a free HIP.
Solicitors should get in on the act now before Foursquare really takes off. Solicitors, along with other businesses, were sceptical about the potential of Twitter, but many law firms now regularly use this platform to promote their services, network and win new business. Who would have thought several years ago that clients would turn to Twitter when seeking legal advice, as opposed to first flicking through Yellow Pages and then, more recently, relying on Google and other search engines, as well as online directories and resources?
Similarly, as more and more people join Foursquare and become accustomed (and perhaps in some cases seemingly addicted) to its friendly competition, surely it will not be too long before it becomes second nature to use the network to find like-minded professionals? Foursquare may just be the next big thing.
Visitors can already leave tips, regardless of whether or not you have claimed your venue, so signing up gives you an element of control and the chance to portray a positive image to potential clients.
Specials could take the form of discounts against certain services, a free will if you handle the conveyancing, a free review of an existing will, free storage of title deeds and so on. The possibilities are endless. Let me know what you think.