McDonald’s Misread Foursquare Special Still Successful

By September 17, 2010

Fast-food chain McDonald's was corrected today on its statement that the company saw an increase of foot traffic by 33 percent because of a promotion with location-based mobile app Foursquare.

 This morning, ReadWriteWeb's Frederic Lardinois posted a retort that McDonald's social media marketing strategy resulted in a one-third increase in mobile app check-ins through Foursquare on Foursquare Day (April 16, 2010).

The original claim was publicized Wednesday on digital marketer resource site Econsultancy's blog. Rick Wion became McDonald's head of social media a few weeks before Foursquare Day and formed the partnership. Instead of offering coupons to everyone that checked in that day, Wion chose random winners for giftcards. The campaign cost only $1,000.

According to Econsultancy coverage, McDonald's saw an increase of 33 percent of check-ins on Foursquare Day, and check-ins were increased forty percent for the week of the special. But Wion was quoted converting check-ins to foot traffic: "I was able to go to some of our marketing people — some of whom had never heard of Foursquare — and say, 'Guess what. With this one little effort, we were able to get a 33% increase in foot traffic to the stores.'" Wion has since responded with a clarification on his Twitter account, " clarify, the 33% increase was in the number of check-ins. We consider check-ins the same as a person entering the restaurant."

Lardinois' post this morning clarifies the numbers discrepancy, however no coverage includes the actual increase of foot traffic that the increased check-ins may have caused. As he points out, with McDonald's international customers reaching 26 million per day, that would have led to a surge of 8.58 million people during Foursquare Day. Foursquare had less than one million users back in April.

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