Jen Doak is the online communications specialist at CASE.
Geosocial or location-based social media tools are quickly becoming a hot trend at colleges and universities. CURRENTS magazine featured an article in January about how some institutions are using them to create a sense of community on campus.
The article “Location, Location, Location” centered on these tools’ marketing potential for educational institutions. With tools like Foursquare and Facebook Places, users can claim prizes or discounts for checking in at certain locations. They can go to new restaurants or bookstores on campus and get badges designed by the institution’s marketers.
“Users can then comment about the deal they just received and push the message out to friends via Facebook or Twitter,” according to author Tim Nekritz, “thereby extending the reach of the promotion by virtual word-of-mouth—the essential currency of social media.”
Nekritz warns at the end that a possible challenge for successful integration of these platforms is privacy: Some people may never be comfortable sharing their location. Despite this, he found that marketers are willing to experiment with different strategies to see what appeals to their specific community.
He also found some especially creative uses of the tools:
Syracuse uses it to promote events, such as the campus’ Orange Central homecoming week. It has held sign-ups, T-shirt giveaways, and other events to promote activities as well as the partnership. Today, Syracuse’s Foursquare page boasts more than 4,000 friends.
Stanford uses Foursquare as a kind of unofficial campus tour that offers “fun, novel, offbeat” information, [according to] Ian Hsu, director of Internet media outreach at California’s Stanford University.
The location-based platform SCVNGR is basically a high-tech scavenger hunt that supports video, photos, and text. From Southern New Hampshire University to Southern Oregon University, more than 350 institutions have integrated the service into their orientation programs to make a game out of familiarizing students with their campuses.
Interested in learning more about Foursquare for universities? The company has a page just for you.
Is your institution experimenting with location-based social media platforms?
We’ve been using Foursquare at University of California, Berkeley, for five months and are hitting five thousand followers. We are launching our first event-related check in later this month at our PLAYgreen festival, http://on.fb.me/hYg5Ty.
Location services are a lively, early cycle, and changing industry. Who knows where it will go? But the number of mobile users in our audience are just too big to ignore.