Tim Guth, the e-business coordinator at North Shore Bank in Brookfield, Wis., is also the "mayor" of his local grocery store. It's a designation he earned through Foursquare, a year-old social network where users share tips about favorite hotspots and earn points as frequent visitors.

The honor didn't get Gluth any specialdiscounts on peanut butter or laundry detergent. Still, he enjoys Foursquare enough that he wanted to get North Shore in on the fun.

The $1.8 billion-asset North Shore is believed to be the only bank in the country to do a promotion involving Foursquare, and marketing consultants say others should follow its lead.

Foursquare works on mobile devices with GPS capabilities, such as smart phones andBlackBerrys. It lets users alert friends to their location and sharerecommendations on stores and restaurants. Foursquare also has elements of a game, awarding points and badges to users who complete certain tasks and bestowing the coveted title of mayor on the person who is the most frequent visitor at any given business."There's an addicting nature to it," Gluth says. "That makes it fun."

Gluth came up with the idea to recognize the mayors of North Shore's 44 branches as a way to boost brand awareness, offering each a $5 Subway gift card. North Shore sought out the mayors on Facebook and Twitter to let them know about the offer.

Tommy Clifford - "@tommytrc" on Twitter - says thetweet from North Shore took him by surprise. Only two other businessesever acknowledged his Foursquare activitywith a tweet, and North Shore is the only one to offer him a reward. He tried to decline the gift card, because he is not a customer. But North Shore insisted he accept and gained "a huge fan," Clifford says. "I think what they did is absolutely over-the-top amazing."

Kate Knox, North Shore's marketing communications manager, says people on Foursquare can electronically check in at a location when they are using an ATMor even just passing by. The bank opted not to ask its mayors if they were customers.

Jason Sherrill, the owner of InetSolution Inc. in Utica, Mich., wrote a blog post about the promotion after noticing the North Shore tweets. His consulting firm helps banks and credit unions with online banking and marketing, and he says many struggle with how to use social media. He liked the North Shore idea and suggested others go even further by inviting mayors to have lunch with the branch manager.

"It's a golden opportunity," Sherrill says. "People signed up for Foursquare in all likelihood are going to be tech-savvy, and they are going to be more likely than the average customer to spread the word among their friends."

Sherrill says he noticed one person with 8,000 followers who tweeted about how "AWESOME!!!" North Shore is, after hearing about his gift card. "He did exactly what we expected someone active in social media would do: He tweeted about it, thus introducing the North Shore brand to all of his followers."

A mention on Twitter or Facebook is "pretty good free publicity," Sherrill says.

Clifford went even further.The self-proclaimed tech geek does a series of YouTube videos about social media with a public relationsfirm in his spare time.So besides sending a "YOU ROCK!!!" tweet to North Shore, he intends to talk about the bankin one of his videos.

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