Foursquare is giving businesses a better way to engage with customers.

Turning a social networking game into a revenue-generating business can be a slow and tedious process. So comes the announcement that Foursquare will start letting the 1 million or so businesses on Foursqaure message with the customers who are checking in with them.

Foursquare is a location-based mobile application and social network that allows users to “check in” via a smartphone app or by text message and broadcast their location to their friends, and on Twitter and Facebook. Users collect virtual badges including becoming “Mayor” of a location for frequent check-ins.

Through the new "local updates" tool, businesses can send their updates to a pool of users who will be picked by Foursquare's algorithm based on the frequency and recentcy of their check-ins and the businesses they've "liked" (a feature Foursquare made available with its redesign last month).

Consumers will see business’ updates in their friends tab. “It’s an easy way to keep up with news from places you frequent, including things like new specials, pictures of the latest shipment of shoes, or a serendipitous food truck appearance,” according to a Foursquare blog post, “The best part is there’s no extra work for you to do: we already know you care about a place if you’ve checked in often or like it and will show you updates from it when you’re in the same city. If you change your mind and don’t want updates from a business any more, you can turn them off with one tap.”

This new tool gives businesses the chance to interact with consumers on a more personal level and a chance to place messages about specials and events for free in the activity streams of users who've likely already spent money in their stores and had enough of an affinity to want to broadcast their visit to friends.

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