When it comes to social media and SEO, I’ve discussed two major players so far: Twitter and the up-and-coming Pinterest. Here is yet one more: Foursquare. This is primarily a mobile app for smartphones, but it can be so much more for businesses that know how to utilize it for promotional and marketing activity. Foursquare trades on the currency of fun, but the app and social media tool can produce tangibly profitable results if businesses use it in just the right way.

In fact, this blog post was inspired by a recent article by Mashable on a promotional collaboration between Foursquare and the popular Viacom cable channel VH1, which was one of the earliest brands to join the Foursquare community. The two have released a “Save the Music” Badge that users who follow VH1 can earn if they check into any music venue in the country. For the first 35,000 users who unlock the badge, $1 will be donated to the VH1 Save the Music Foundation, which provides money to schools to revitalize their music education programs.

From this particular venture, VH1 is clearly not making money; but, it is generating a large amount of user participation, and garnering loads of attention from both people who use Foursquare and those who don’t. This attention will help build strongly upon a positive brand presence for VH1 in the social media sphere, and will prove beneficial to promotions it may run in the future that will bring in money.

It is in fact the opportunity to hold special sales and promotions on Foursquare that makes the mobile app so valuable to all businesses. The Foursquare audience is largely young, fun-loving, and – most importantly – eager to spend, especially when they are presented something in an appealing way, which happens easily through Foursquare. Businesses that are quick to realize this can successfully set up the right social media marketing campaigns to engage these users – and bring them into their stores, restaurants, and other venues.

To best illustrate this, I can only make use of some local examples. When I check into the Cherry Hill Mall’s Macy’s on Foursquare, I often receive a discount of 20% on any purchase. When I check into a nearby Raymour & Flanigan Furniture store on Foursquare, I can get a 10% discount on my entire purchase of non-sale items. Several restaurants in Philadelphia offer the ability to take $5 off an order of $5 or more if you check into them via Foursquare. Speaking of restaurants, checking into the Chili’s Grill & Bar located close to the Webimax offices rewards Foursquare users with a free order of chips and salsa.

Such tantalizing discounts and promotions have proven incredibly useful in getting people to engage with – and spend time and money at – many businesses. If you are running a business and are looking for that extra edge, it may be worth your time to consider how Foursquare can help enhance your SEO marketing and promotion strategy.