social media case studiesWashington Redskins fans are some of the most devoted when it comes to supporting their team, donning full Native American headdresses, painted faces and hog noses.

These loyal fans now have an arguably easier way of showing their support—and connecting with each other—through Foursquare.

In a pilot for the 2010 football season, the NFL team rolled out Foursquare as a way to reward fans for attending home games or rallies during out-of-town games.

The results beat expectations. By December, Redskins fans had logged more than 20,000 check-ins at the home stadium FedExField and tens of thousands more at venues across the D.C. metro area.

“It’s pretty impressive given that Foursquare is so new and not as readily embraced as other social media tools,” said Shripal Shah, Sr. VP, Digital Strategy at Washington Redskins.

Redskins fans have logged more than 20,000 check-ins at FedExField this football season.

Organization: Washington Redskins

Social Media Handles & Stats:


Foursquare: 12,800 followers; 20,457 check-ins at FedExField

Twitter: 14,909 followers

Facebook: 429,510 fans


  • The Redskins scored 20,457 check-ins at FedExField across seven home games.
  • Foursquare followers nearly number Redskins Twitter followers, though the team has been on Twitter much longer.
  • Nearly 30 metro area bars and restaurants received a total of more than 30,000 check-ins over the season so far.

Rewarding Fans Who Show Up

In the past couple of years, the Redskins have built their fan bases on both Facebook and Twitter. But Shah saw Foursquare as a different kind of connection with fans – as a way to reward those who show up in person. In establishing a Foursquare presence, the Redskins became the first NFL team to have a badge on the location-based social networking site.

“We picked Foursquare for a couple of reasons,” Shah said. “A, it has the largest user base [among location-based services], and B, it allowed us to do a bunch of things, yet keep it really simple for our fan base. We didn’t want to make it too complicated. We wanted to make it fun and reward fans for coming to our games or watching the games.”

To unlock the Foursquare badge for FedExField, fans must check in within three hours before or three hours after each home game ends.

The team also established nearly 30 different “Redskins” bars and restaurants around the city where fans can get together and watch the games, and of course check in on Foursquare as they arrive. At once, the Redskins organization promotes those establishments that host its fans and gives fans a way to connect with each other.

A Simple Sweepstakes

The Redskins kicked off the Foursquare pilot by promoting it at preseason games on the Jumbotron and with preseason TV advertising. Additionally, it teased special Foursquare promotions through email and on its website.

In a major promotion this fall, fans were automatically entered into a sweepstakes and could win prizes by simply unlocking the Redskins badge at FedExField or at participating establishments. In a drawing of all entrants, the winner took away two loge tickets for a home game on Nov. 15 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and the experience of tailgating with the GEICO caveman beforehand.

Shah feels Foursquare offers an easier way to manage promotions, as opposed to trying to do a similar offering with Twitter or Facebook.

“Through Twitter, this would take more steps,” Shah said. “It’s a simpler way to do it for the average football fan. We reward people for following or finding our stadium or venue and give them the opportunity to win tickets to Monday night’s game.”

Running a couple of months, the contest succeeded in building awareness of the Redskins’ Foursquare presence and growing followers and check-ins.

“The contest exceeded our expectations,” Shah added. “At our last game we had 3800 check-ins alone.”

redskins page

Fans who checked in and unlocked the Redskins badge were automatically entered in a drawing to win coveted tickets and tailgating with the GEICO caveman.

Giving Fans Home Bases During Away Games

When the Redskins play away games, the organization holds a series of rallies at partner establishments. There, fans can check in and unlock a badge after three visits to a venue. Further encouraging them to join in, the Redskins give away prizes onsite and bring in Redskins cheerleaders. To date, Redskins fans have checked in at participating Foursquare restaurants more than 30,000 times this season alone.

In tying in Foursquare, Shah feels the Redskins are simply adding an interactive dimension to activities that fans are already participating in. They engage with the Redskins organization in a whole new way.

redskins rallies

Redskins Rally Parties at locations across the D.C. area encourage fans to check in on Foursquare at supporting bars and restaurants.

“We use Foursquare as a way to extend the reach of how we’re promoting rallies,” Shah said. “We’re adding a layer on top of it. We’re really trying to connect fans together.”

Toward that end, fans have connected with each other on Foursquare, with hundreds sharing tips such as where to find the best parking deals at FedExField, where to sit at establishments and whether to order the Philly cheesesteak or grilled cheese.

A Winning Trial

So far, the Redskins consider the Foursquare trial a success based on the high – and growing – level of engagement during the season. Already, Shah is considering how to take Foursquare and location-based services a step further.

“We’re trying to open ourselves up to all the elements that this platform can allow us to do,” he said.

For now, the organization remains very satisfied with the level of participation, especially given the lower-profile nature of Foursquare compared to other social media tools.

“@redskinsdotcom has over 12,800 followers on Foursquare. This is close to total followers on Twitter. So growth – based on the total Foursquare user base being smaller than Twitter – has been great,” Shah added.

The Redskins Foursquare Playbook

Keep it simple – Don’t ask fans to do too much or they won’t participate in promotions. A check-in automatically entered them into a drawing for tickets.

Start small and build – The Redskins started with a promotion or two this year and will add more for the next season, such as special rewards for the mayor of FedExField.

Find partners – During away games, fans could check in at 27 D.C. metro area bars and restaurants and unlock a badge after three visits.

Offer incentives – Fans enjoy being fans, but give them even more reasons to check in. Fans were entered to win sweet tickets just by checking in.

What’s worked for you in increasing your Foursquare followers and check-ins? As an individual, what types of promotions would make you more likely to check in? Leave your comments in the box below.

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  • I am new to foursquare and but I am liking it.

  • Its getting harder to keep up with all these sites..but I think it will be ok to join Foursquare anyway.

    “Black Seo Guy “Signing Off”

  • Whoa, how is the statistic of 20,000 Foursquare check-ins OVER THE COURSE OF THE ENTIRE FOOTBALL SEASON notable — when you consider FedEx Field has 91,704 seats?

    The better question is how many of those Foursquare check-ins are from unique users.

  • Ari – It is VERY notable considering that not every person seated in the stadium has a smart phone, uses FourSquare, or has the desire to actually check in.

    You could argue that we have nearly 50,000 email subscribers, so how could a few hundred retweets on a blog post be notable. Not everyone acts. That’s just the facts.

  • How many of SME’s retweeters are from unique users, and not from “seasons ticket holders” who retweet every article every day?

  • mike lawson

    I wonder if Geico had a Foursquare promo going with having lunch with the Caveman at the Redskins game — doing a little co-op branding.

  • Does anyone know of any other large stadiums doing this?

  • Steve Allan

    As Ari pointed out, 20K check-ins over 8 games when the attendance exceeds 90,000 each game is notable but not noteworthy. That they have people checking in that go to affiliated bars is a bit better. You should know that the team promotes this like crazy on their local radio station and have included it in emails to their massive database. What is more noteworthy is that they have over 400,000 Facebook fans. In the DC area, Redskins football is akin to what you would see in an SEC or Big Ten college town – it is a religion. The Skins would have done much better if they had offered something more than a badge.

  • These is very useful specially to mobile phone users. I also like this i am using now

  • timoplatt

    Kudos to the Redskins for teaming with FourSquare to encourage gaming and fun for their fan base.
    Take brand marketing to the next level by engaging your in-stadium audience and your national fan base in continuous conversations. Hold group and 1:1 chats with targeted groups with messaging tightly integrated with your fans’ diverse and varying daily lives, and reap extra benefits: promote your events; identify trends; improve your merchandise and other product offerings, and extend brand loyalty. Only PoKos has an App for that: PoKos Social Messaging(TM).

  • Guess I am going to have to learn to use my cell phone after all. This will make my wife very happy. Mike Logan

  • Guess I am going to have to learn how to use my cell phone. This will make my wife very happy. Mike

  • I really hope that more retailers and restaurants seize Foursquare in this way – it is an awesome promotional tool, especially for small business. In fact, my sister in PA bought me gift cards from my favorite places in VA – she knew I liked them because I check-in on Foursquare!

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  • caseyhibbard


    I think the real payoff for the Redskins is adding an interactive element to engaging with fans. It was the first year and a trial. I was impressed at the numbers simply because I still don’t see that many people really using Foursquare.

  • It’s very interesting to see Foursquare’s growth.

    Looking forward to see what Mark Zuck will do about it..!

  • Very interesting and I would say definitely noteworthy. How many Steelers or Dolphins fans checked in last season – probably not as many as the team that promoted it. I think there are some good takeaways here, I would look for other sports, primarily the NBA to do more of the same in the near future.

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  • Very cool – we’re about to do something similar with a few west coast teams/stadiums – but helping to expand check-ins by promoting via digital signage at the venue.

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  • Our company is doing something very similar. We are a small restaurant, but we got digital signs that link to Foursquare and FB Places. It makes it really easy for customers to check in while at the restaurant and receive an instant discount. Seems to be getting the word out about our specials…
    The company we work with has done an exceptional job at keeping the signage up-to-date with new social networking. Their name is insteo if anyone is interested (

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  • For a trial in four squares, they’re doing good. And for the red skins, they’re great in keeping avid fans. To keep them coming even in larger numbers is really an achievement.