How I Think foursquare Can Help Your School

This week saw the unveiling of WVU's official presence on foursquare. It also saw the unveiling of our new central hub for our social media initiatives. While I'm not an avid foursquare player I am excited about the opportunities foursquare presents for our school. I was very surprised to learn that their have been almost 11,000 check-ins at our official venues (*learn [how to find number of check-ins for your school*]3). So why should a school consider joining the foursquare for universities program?

Foursquare == Location Based Discovery/Advertising

This is the key point for foursquare for schools. Foursquare provides a means where a user playing the game can stumble upon relevant information that your school provides. It's at this juncture of game and information discovery that foursquare shines for me. If this interests you then jump all over the foursquare for universities program. If not then just take a pass on foursquare for the time being. It's an absolute luxury when it comes to the social networks you should be looking to engage in. But if you're interested here are some more details…

Better Gameplay

Again, I'm not into foursquare as a game but by having your venues appropriately marked your students can earn up to five special badges that can't be earned anywhere else. There is the Campus Explorer badge (check-in at ten locations around campus), the Bookworm Bender badge (check-in at a library after midnight), the "Smells Like School Spirit" badge (check-in at five athletic events), the Campus Munchies badge (check-in at five dining locations), and the Quad Squatter badge (check-in at a quad area ten times).

Increased Accuracy of Location-focused Information

If a student, faculty member or staff member added an important location from your campus to foursquare they may have entered in incorrect information. By claiming venues you get the opportunity to easily correct mistakes.

Bulk Claiming of Venues

Being a part of the official program gives you (or gave us at least) the ability to bulk claim venues. We provided a list of the venues at our school (ones already in the system and new ones to add) and with two spreadsheets we had all our venues claimed or created. The biggest trick to the bulk claim will probably be getting latitude and longitude for your buildings.  If that's a problem you can try this tip I offer for folks using the map portion of Mobile Web OSP. It took the person who put the information together for us about a half-day to get all the venues to claim or add. Luckily for her we had a lot of the data, like latitude and longitude, on hand.

Providing Relevant Off-Campus Tips

Tips are one of the things that actually changed my mind about foursquare. At first I was pretty dismissive of the entire set-up but there are some really interesting aspects of tips for a school. The first is that if a user is a "friend" of a school on foursquare and they check into (or near!) one of your official locations your tip for that location is automatically punted to the top. So the most useful, official tip gets the most prominence for that user. The second cool thing about tips is that you can place them wherever you want and that relationship is still preserved. For example, if  we've placed a tip at a local state park and a student who has listed us as friend checks in there then our tip rises to the top. The coolest applications for this that I can think of revolve around athletics and alums for off-campus events:

  • Leaving a tip at an opposing school's athletic venue so that you can coordinate alumni & fans. Maybe you want to encourage a fan rally before an event? This would be an interesting way of accomplishing that.
  • If an alumni chapter has regular meetings at a popular restaurant they could ask your school to leave a tip at that location so that maybe other alums could learn about the regular event.
  • Leaving tips for important off-campus projects that your school contributed to or partners with. Maybe research projects?

I'm sure you can think of some other ideas. To be clear, anyone can add tips to a venue. It's just that if someone is a friend of your school then your tips bubble to the top.

Driving Business/Traffic via Specials

The other idea that intrigues me is "The Special." You can leave specials at venues you manage. These would be something like "The mayor of this bookstore gets 50% off" or maybe "10% off at the coffee shop for all Book Bender badge holders after 10pm." I think there's an opportunity here to help advertise special athletic event prices or eateries.

Dream Feature: The Hybrid Tip/Special for Events

This is not a current feature of foursquare but I'd love to see it. I think this idea is what would really make foursquare over the top useful for us. It would be the ability to offer an extra-visible notice to users checking in at a location that a special event is going on nearby. For example, if a user checks into our student union it'd be great to show that a special movie is playing in the nearby movie theatre. Currently I guess that should go in as a tip but it seems a little too ephemeral content-wise. But it also isn't as important as a special. Hopefully this is a feature that can be implemented in the future.

For those of you curious how we're advertising this on campus outside of the new social media hub I hope to have a post up on that in the next few weeks. We have a trick up our sleeve but it requires some more testing before sharing with the world.

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