Foursquare in Higher Education

Foursquare was officially launched in March 2009 at South By Southwest Interactive. Foursquare is one of several new location-based social networking apps that allow users to broadcast where they are at a given time. User generally access Foursquare through wireless devices, such as iPhone and Blackberries. Foursquare had about 6 million registered user in January 2011 with almost 381 million total number of check-ins globally. Other familiar examples of location-based social networks are Gowalla and Facebook Places.

User check into a location via Foursquare share the location with friends, including on other social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Users can review information posted about the venue and receive discounts or prizes for checking into a location.

foursquare basics in higher education

Foursquare Functions on Campus

As the use of smartphones has grown significantly in recent years, especially with the millennial generation, it becomes important to learn how to capitalize the different applications being used be the campus community. Below are a few ways students are using Foursquare.

Sharing Your Location

foursquare share locations

Users let friends know where to meet them

  • “Study group meeting in the Math Center”
  • “Just left Matador Day. Stop by to get your free t-shirt”

Learning About a Venue

User post reviews and insider tips.

  • Check into the gym reveals photos of the first basketball game played there.
  • “There always lots of parking available next to the University Center.”

Discounts and Prizes

foursquare prizes and discounts

Venues may offer prizes for checking in

  • Free coffee for the mayor of the Little Bean Cafe
  • 10% off at the bookstore for 5 check-ins

Virtual Incentives

foursquare badges

Foursquare offers badges and mayor status. University badges (left to right): College Explorer, Munchies, Smells Like School Spirit, Quad Squatter, and Bookworm Bender

Why Use Foursquare on Campus?

Foursquare can be used to accomplish a number of different institutional goals but a institution using it to provide additional information to visits will focus differently then those using it to drive student engagement on campus. Below are a few reason to use Foursquare on campus.

Building Community Connections

foursquare connections

  • Encouraging students to patronize off-campus business
  • Informing community members of events on campus

Encouraging Campus Exploration

Foursquare Encourage Campus Exploration

  • Offering specials for off-the-beaten path venues
  • Informing students of events on different parts of campus

Boosting School Spirit

foursquare School Spirit

  • Providing opportunities for alumni to follow campus events
  • Sharing information about campus traditions and history

Institutions using Foursquare around the Nation

Duke University

  • Gauging student interest
  • Looking for partners to offer check in specials
  • Claim Campus Venues

Arizona State University

  • Recruiting staff & students to manage venues
  • Collaborating with athletics department to offer specials
  • Exploring ways to integrate Foursquare with other social media efforts

Texas A&M University

  • Coordinating Foursquare with other social media efforts
  • Hosting Foursquare scavenger hunts to raise awareness
  • Using Foursquare to monitor traffic, effects of check-in specials

Syracuse University

  • Launching official Syracuse Foursquare badge
  • Recruiting students and alumni to create global Foursquare presence (study aboard & satellite campuses)

If you are considering using Foursqaure or other location-based applications at your college it will be important to determine what is the goal of using this type of service.

Questions to Ask:

  • Are students already using Foursquare?
  • Are venues already created around campus?
  • Are students or staff leaving tips?
  • Are local business using Foursquare and how?
  • Are staff familiar with Foursquare?
  • Does the college already have a Facebook and Twitter Account?
  • Are staff members in charge of social media efforts a division or institutional levels?

If you answered “Yes” to the majority of these questions your institution could look into using Foursquare as a tool for either engagement and/or informational purposes. Determine at what level you are willing to utilize resource to expand your presence on Foursquare and don’t forget to involve students in the process.

Source: Student Affairs Update March 2011 – An Introduction to Foursquare

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3 Comments on “Foursquare in Higher Education

  1. Josh,

    Excellent post! At Saint Michael’s College we are finding that students are getting really excited about using Foursquare now that the company has opened up University Badges to all campuses! There is also healthy competition among our current students to claim and maintain the mayorships.

    To one of the points you make in the article, I think one of the best uses of Foursquare on a college campus is the ability to quickly share bits of campus tradition and history with your visitors. What I continue to struggle with is how to effectively use Foursquare to engage prospective students visiting campus… beyond this particular use. I would welcome comments and suggestions from you or your readers on this topic!

  2. This is great but Gowalla has taken huge strides to really use their location based services on college campuses. Texas A&M, University of Texas (where I work and Austin where Gowalla is based), Penn State, Florida and many others already have put together virtual tours to promote locations on campus and for students to use these services to navigate their new campus to find things they need. Gowalla is far more visual. You’ll notice that some of these locations actually have their own custom look, allowing students to find the real thing even more easily:
    Good stuff, I love your article and I am glad to see that other people see location based services as a way to connect on campus.

    • I’m sure I’ll be blogging about Gowalla in the near future. It’s really a toss up for which Location Based Service you like the most. I have checked out UF Gowalla, pretty cool stuff for virtual tours. I think Gowalla might be missing the discount piece that could help on campus business. Yelp now has a check-in service with reviews, quick tips, pictures, and more that could benefit a college to explore too. Just like any social media it’s no good to just invest in one but might be good to focus efforts the most on one and promote it well.

      Disney is actually on of the best at Gowalla and since I’m in Orlando I can see how well it’s done, especially for trips.

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