Are Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr starting to look a bit old hat to you? Wishing you could do something a bit newer and groovier with your online presence? Then it could be time to look at Foursquare.

If this geo-location craze had thus far passed you by, think yourself lucky: for many of us, it’s registered only as an annoying way for our mates – before they work out how to control their accounts, in any case – to clog up our twitter streams with inane pronouncements like “I just became the mayor of Burger King”.

Yes, at first glance, it’s little more than a game, where users ‘check in’ wherever they may go, and gain points or badges for doing so. However, there is more to it than that – and even some marketing potential. Take a look, for example, at the search results on Foursquare for our local area, Notting Hill, and you’ll see what we mean.

Each of the entries on that list represents a place that a Foursquare user has seen fit to register: straight away, one can see its usefulness for people new to the area, looking for cafes or pubs or any one of the many local businesses in the locale.

Now take a look at an individual listing for a local coffee shop: remember, this is not created by the shop itself, but by its customers. You can see that it has been ‘tagged’ with descriptive words like ‘bakery’: clicking on these will bring up other listings in the same category near the user’s location.

Equally important is the ‘tips’ section: purportedly for users to leave advice for others, this has become, for many businesses, a kind of review space. Again, as the owner of the business, you have no control over this: the age of user-generated content is truly upon us.

There is one area where you can have control, though, and really leverage Foursquare to your own advantage. Click on ‘are you the manager of this business?’, register, and you’ll be able to place special offers right there on the page. You can be as imaginative as you like: free services for anyone who mutters the secret password perhaps, or one big reward for each succeeding ‘mayor’?

It may be a short-lived craze, or it may evolve into something more complex, but for now, Foursquare is definitely a low-cost way to reach the early- and mid-cycle adopters. And since their money is as good as anyone’s, we’d advise you to go for it.