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My Smartphone Sent Me

How savvy businesses are finding customers on Foursquare, Twitter and Meetup

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This story appears in the March 2010 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

When someone walks in to The Coffee Groundz in Houston and demands a free coffee because they are "mayor," general manager J.R. Cohen asks to see the person's cell phone. If that makes any sense to you, you're probably familiar with the urban social media phenomenon foursquare.com.

Foursquare is best described as a mashup of Facebook, Twitter and real-life meet-ups. Users can "check in" from their locations and also see where other Foursquare contacts are lurking. The person who checks in the most from a particular spot is named "mayor" of that spot. "We have people challenging each other all the time to be mayor of Coffee Groundz," Cohen says. "We've definitely seen an increase in business, and offering something free to the mayor has become a great game."

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