Can Foursquare save newspapers?

2009 was a tough year for newspapers, with all the cutbacks, closures, skinnier page widths and struggles with transitioning to the online realm. But maybe 2010 is off to a better start in terms of that last item — the online issue. At least one newspaper — Canada’s Metro News — is thinking differently about mobile media.

As Mashable reported earlier this week, Toronto-based Metro is partnering with the mobile check-in game Foursquare to provide editorial content to readers on the go.

“As a key component of the partnership, Metro will add their location-specific editorial content to the Foursquare service,” the newspaper explains. “People who choose to follow Metro on Foursquare will then receive alerts when they’re close to one of those locations. For example, someone close to a restaurant that Metro has reviewed would receive a ‘tip’ about that restaurant and the have ability to link through to the full Metro review on metronews.ca.”

As Mashable points out, this partnership offers interesting possibilities. “The partnership also serves as a symbiotic relationship that combines mobile utility with the bonus of print exposure for Foursquare as well as restaurants and retailers. Case in point, Metro plans to feature Mayor Deals every Friday in its publication. The deals are alternative ad buys for businesses looking to offer and promote mayor-only specials.”

Could Foursquare help save the newspaper business? And in the process, could it boost retail business, help stimulate local economies and even make mobile applications even more relevant? Looks like Foursquare and Metro are on to something.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

4 thoughts on “Can Foursquare save newspapers?”

  1. This may be a hard sell for some. As a marketer, it is a fresh and fun idea. But it also has a feel that this tactic is more of a gimmicky short term patch than a long term solution to the issues facing print. But who knows.

    I also know people will have the ability to turn on/off this function in their Foursquare, but it seems a bit intrusive, especially when many Foursquare users may be using social network more for fun, not to be marketed too.

    Overall, lets hope this is one way to bring back print.

  2. Sure, this is a great way to distribute content to targeted audiences, but it doesn’t address the underlying problem with newspapers. Who’s going to pay for it?

    I’ve already downloaded FourSquare for free. Do you think I’m going to pay to read the review of a restaurant I’m sitting in when there are several other unfiltered comments I can read for free? Doubt it.

    Until newspapers can reinvent the news-delivery business model, their struggles are only going to continue.

  3. Creative idea, if nothing else. But I don’t think it’ll do much to help either side in the long run. These sorts of alliances though, are truly ways for old media to get connected with how other folks are talking now.

  4. Thanks for weighing in with your comments, folks. I agree that this is a rather gimmicky approach, more appropriate for generating short-term buzz than long-term fiscal viability. But maybe it’s an approach that will generate new ideas for old media to consider.

    Patrick – To your point about downloading Foursquare for free vs. paying for something: What if the cost were so small (like $1.99 or $2.99) that added value and convenience — would you download an app for the added value at such a minimal cost? I’m still sticking with mostly free apps, but I have downloaded a few very low-cost apps because of the additional value they bring. So that may provide some additional revenue stream, but probably very minimal.

    It’s apparent, at least for now, that newspapers haven’t been able to get people to pay for online content. (Consider what’s happened with Long Island’s Newsday, which has after 3 months, has just 35 subscribers to its online pay version. But maybe — just maybe — mobile apps that add value to local newspapers could help.

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