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  reports in ClickZ that a new automatic updating service from Foursquare allows businesses to target repeat customers with news, specials and deals.

Foursquare Local Updates lets merchants send text, photos and specials to customers who have either checked into a business several times or liked it on Foursquare. The updates will be shown to customers when they’re in the city where that business is located.  Merchant updates also will appear in search results when consumers search for a place in the Foursquare mobile app or on the web.

Microsoft has also announced that it has integrated Foursquare into Bing search results, so searchers in the United States will begin to see public tips from Foursquare users in the “People Who Know” section in the sidebar.

This model will let businesses use the Foursquare platform to deliver commercial messages that aren’t obtrusive as pure advertising.

Improved Merchant Dashboard Helps Manage Campaigns

The merchant dashboard lets business owners and marketers manage updates and view data on individual business locations or a group of locations.  This should give Foursquare a leg up on competition from Twitter and Google AdWords as it is simple but robust, and can help small businesses who lack the technical savvy or time to  manage campaigns on their own. Although such a user friendly experience is not available on Twitter, some third-party companies are building tools around Twitter for small businesses to use.

The tool is free to merchants and several brands including Outback Steakhouse and Wolfgang Puck plan to use the updates feature. Foursquare plans to start to monetize the program by beginning to charge for the merchant dashboard in different ways, for instance letting merchants target offers to people around them in a cost-per-action model.

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