Luxury Brands Show Nonprofits How to Strut Their Stuff on Foursquare

Luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Jimmy Choo and Oscar de la Renta understand the power of location-based services like Foursquare and can show nonprofits how to maximize geo-location and add some bling to their marketing. Location, location, location. If your nonprofit is a hospital, a museum, an historical site, or a soup kitchen you need to own your location on Foursquare like a luxury brand owns its stores for grand openings and special events. That means encouraging employees, guests and visitors to check-in at your location. Louis Vuitton has over 38,000 friends on Foursquare and takes stores check-ins seriously, like the Foursquare promotion around its London store.

Be a leader. I admire that luxury brands understand they're just not leaders in luxury, they're leaders in culture, taste and society as well. Louis Vuitton promoted its store launch in London by incorporating branded tips on what to do. Here's the tip for London's Borough's Market.

Do visit this bustling food market where top London chefs come to buy their ingredients. If you don’t find it here, where will you? Open from Thursday to Saturday, but come early to avoid the crowds!

Why can't causes be leaders in their respective areas. The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston could leave Foursquare tips on art attractions around the city. Mass General Hospital could leave tips on healthy places to eat, exercise or even walk at lunch. Community Servings, which delivers hot meals to the needy, could offer tips on great bakeries.

Target the masses. The benefit of all these tips outside of your physical location is you get exposure with people the might not have been to the  MFA, seen a doctor at MGH or bought a pie from Community Servings. That's just what these luxury brands have in mind when they use Foursquare, and they've created entry-level products to woo new customers.

Use check-ins to support donor loyalty. Just as luxury brands are active in rewarding customers with special perks when they check-in--like the tickets Marc Jacobs gave away above--nonprofits can use check-ins to thank donors. For example, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston could encourage donors via their newsletter to sign-up for Foursquare. The next time they check-in at the ICA they could get free admission to a special exhibit.

Location-based services have become a necessity for luxury brands that want to promote their locations, be a leader, solicit new business and reward the faithful. The opposite is true for nonprofits. They still believe that services like Foursquare are a luxury they can live without.

But this is one instance that causes should splurge.