Local business social network MerchantCircle has launched a "Mayors" program to its 1.4 million members, no doubt an attempt to capitalize one the growing popularity of Fourquare.
"As you know, local players who focus on the consumer space have introduced gaming elements, like check-ins and badges, to add fun and interest and drive traffic to their local networks.," a representative for MerchantCircle tells WebProNews. "Yet none of those players have turned the model around and made local social networking into a game for merchants...until now."
"The project was designed to make MerchantCircle more fun and engaging, and help drive new memberships," the rep says. "The numbers show that even in the early stages, it's working."
After just two weeks of testing, MerchantCircle says it saw a 123% increase in overall merchant-to-merchant connections overall, and a 59% increase in invitations to join the network. Merchants who become 'Mayor' of their city through in-network activities are rewarded with free advertising around the MerchantCircle network.
"A running leaderboard keeps the competition from getting stale in 7500+ cities and towns around the U.S. Currently the point system is simple, and in the coming months, MerchantCircle will introduce new ways to earn points and climb the leaderboard and become Mayor," the company says.
MerchantCircle has been doing some interesting things with local businesses. A while back they announced a partnership with Demand Media on local business Q&A search.