Foursquare U

Back before texting and tweeting, students on college campuses relied on announcement boards and gossip floating in the student center to find the popular hang out spots or know about the latest buzz. Today, news about and around campus is instant. Most major universities have embraced social media over the past decade and are using it to reach college students in a unique way. But how can universities gain access to real-time social trends on campus? Welcome to the new and evolving world of geosocial networks.
Geosocial or “location-based” social networks are on the rise, with the forerunner being foursquare, a mobile app launched in 2009 that allows users to “check-in” to various locations and share where they are and what they are doing with their friends. Access to real-time location data from foursquare allows marketers and businesses to know what locations are “trending” as well as the demographics of users checking-in to their establishment. With the growing momentum of foursquare, universities are hopping onto the “check-in” train and recognizing foursquare on campus.
Why should universities be interested in foursquare? For starters, foursquare currently has 15 million users and over 1.5 billion check-ins worldwide, with a growth rate of 3400% in 2010. Chances are that your business or venue is already on foursquare and users have probably checked in and maybe even left some tips. Information that users enter when creating a venue may be incorrect, but universities that claim their venues can add appropriate information to academic buildings to ensure the best overall experience for faculty, students, and guest.
Universities are beginning to recognize the potential value of information gathered using geosocial networks. What does 4pm look like on campus? Is the library packed? Are students working out? Applications like foursquare can also attract visitors on campus by offering “check-in” deals (ex. 10% off a shirt when you check-in to the campus bookstore), creating a self guided mobile tour of academic venues, and leaving historic information or helpful tips for different locations.

Most importantly, foursquare is free advertising (for now). Not only that, but it can be interactive and rewarding for users, perhaps by giving away free university gear for going to the library, attending a campus event, or staying healthy at the gym. The possibilities for university marketing are endless.

By: Hunter Wilson, Josh Vester, Ashley Oliver, Molly Jacques