By now quite a few of you have read (or been subjected to) my basic primer blog about Foursquare. In the months since, many institutions (mine included) have become more serious about using this geosocial platform. But how do we bridge from grappling over mayorships to serving institutional purposes?
The first (and dreadfully obvious) step is creating a location or locations for your institution, if such doesn’t exist already. The next step involves claiming your official Foursquare location. Weeks ago I applied to claim SUNY Oswego online and heard nothing. When the subject came up earlier this week on Twitter, the ever-helpful JD Ross at Hamilton College mentioned the email address of firstname.lastname@example.org, so I sent a follow-up email with the site I wanted to claim, my Foursquare account ID and contact information if they had questions. Within _minutes_ Foursquare responded to say I had successfully claimed the venue.
The next step is consolidating locations if duplicates exist. In our case, one could find 3 SUNY Oswegos and 2 Suny Oswegos. Many users wander concentric circles but don’t share a neighborhood. I had noted the duplicates in my follow-up email and someone named Ian from Foursquare asked me to provide him the locations and they would consolidate. First thing Wednesday morning I emailed the duplicate locations and after around 4 hours Ian told me it was taken care of. Fast and effective service!
What to do next? We have the opportunity to create a special for the mayor of SUNY Oswego. This would be easier if my social media budget were more than $0 (zero dollars). Or, more accurately, whatever I feel like paying out of my own pocket.
I also want to create more sites (buildings, key attractions) around campus when I find time; I don’t have any social media interns until fall, so that would be an assignment if I don’t do it in summer. I’ve claimed a Foursquare user account (sunyoswego) for my institution, but whether I remember to change back and forth from my personal account to the institutional one (let alone recall the respective passwords) while creating venues and checking in remains to be seen.
Since I emphasize goals over tools (aka chasing shiny objects), with Foursquare, my overarching goal is to build connections both among the campus community and with the campus itself. Sure, new students and visitors can use it to discover and explore things or become mayor of our library. But I’d like to throw in some other fun, engaging initiatives; as a geocacher I think maybe we could put hidden prizes in some locations and use tips to find them. But these are things to brainstorm and develop … the first step is (was) to claim the space and consolidate to bring our users together.