Cheap Beer If You Check-In… Or Just Tweet.

Beer Taps from the EBA Beer Tasting by Andre CharlandOne of the most compelling aspects of the location-based service Foursquare is that they are increasingly enticing users to check-in to venues by partnering up to offer special deals to those who do. A person who checks-in at a coffee shop and shows the barista, may get a free coffee, for example. It’s a win-win for both the service and the venue because it gets people using the app more and gets people visiting the venue more. But what if users and venues go around Foursquare and start using Twitter for that?

That has started to happen recently, as venues are getting wise to the idea of using these special deals. For example, Patxi’s Pizza, a Bay Area-based restaurant, recently announced that it would offer a special deal to anyone who simply tweeted that they were at the restaurant, and showed their server the tweet. To be clear, they also have the same deal in place if you check-in on Foursquare, but using Twitter in a way similar to Foursquare is interesting.

One issue with venues offering these deals through Foursquare is that the service is still relatively small and unknown. Twitter, by comparison, is much larger and has become a known entity in the media and other areas of the mainstream. A public tweet by someone that they were at a certain restaurant is potentially a much more powerful form of free advertising for the venue than a Foursquare check-in.

Of course, there’s a downside too. Since Twitter is more popular, doing deals such as the tweet one could mean the restaurant would have to give out a lot more free stuff (depending on what the deal is, obviously). But again, it might be worth it for the free advertising.

Foursquare has another potential leg up as well. Because they’re predicated around the concept of the check-in, they can keep track of who is checking in the most and give out “mayorships.” So far, deals surrounding harder-to-obtain mayorships are at least just as popular as the check-in deals. And some venues appear willing to offer more to these known loyal customers. Patxi’s, for example, offers a you one free pizza a week if you’re the mayor. For checking-in or tweeting, you only get a free soft drink or $1 beer.

Another location-based service, Gowalla, is working on its own similar concept for venue deals. Since that service is largely based around the picking up and dropping of virtual goods at venues, if you got a special good, you could trade it for a free item at a restaurant, for example. This too, is more of a game element, and beyond what Twitter can easily do.

Still, I’d bet that we can expect to see a lot more of venues offering deals to people who tweet about being at a place. And because they don’t have to work on any sort of arrangement to get their deal placed in an app like Foursquare, there’s a much lower barrier to entry for these venues. They could simply tweet about how to secure the deal, as Patxi’s did.

And perhaps Twitter is even thinking of officially offering something along these lines when it rolls out its supposedly premium offering to businesses at some point this year, as it tries to pull in more revenues.

Then of course there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room: Facebook. If and when Facebook implements its location element, their 300-million-plus user base will be awfully enticing for a lot of venues looking to promote.

[photo: flickr/andre charland]