2011 saw a massive spike in new users for location-based services. With the proliferation of mobile phones and built-in notifications, it’s no wonder that services like Foursquare and SCVNGR are becoming more mainstream. Many universities have jumped onboard, seeing opportunities to drive engagement and retention with students. We’ll explore how schools are finding success with Foursquare and SCVNGR.
Foursquare surpassed the 15 million user mark in December and will likely continue it’s exponential growth. It became the dominant location-based platform when it’s main competitor, Gowalla was acquired and shut down by Facebook.
The basic premise of using Foursquare for universities is that it’s a modern way of getting students to explore your campus. Universities can add trivia and tips to buildings and locations and can award students badges or prizes for checking-in. You can also create lists of locations on campus, usually centered around a specific theme like Syracuse does with its Ghost Buildings list.
Some other ideas for creating lists on Foursquare include:
- Great study spots.
- Campus dining facilities and vending machines.
- Off-campus locations that offer discounts to students and alumni.
Texas A&M University incorporated Foursquare into their social media campaign last year. You can read the interview with their Director of Social Media at College Web Editor.
SCVNGR (pronounced “scavenger”) is similar to Foursquare in that it uses check-ins, but SCVNGR is more of a game-based app that focuses on rewarding users for completing challenges. Already more than 400 universities and colleges are using SCVNGR on their campuses. Many are using it for orientation week since it’s a clever way for students to learn their campus surroundings as well as win prizes (like discounts at the campus bookstore).
Patrick Powers wrote about 5 lessons learned when Webster University used SCVNGR. Universities should keep these in mind when designing their own campaigns.
And here is a case study outlining Boston University’s experience with SCVNGR.
Location-based services like Foursquare and SCVNGR are useful tools for universities to drive student engagement. It’s also a unique way for universities to help spread word of mouth about their institution. When students check into locations and complete challenges, many of these activities will be posted to their Facebook and Twitter feeds. Future prospective students will see their friends having fun on campus and might consider the school as an option for when they go off to college.
Has your school tried out Foursquare or SCVNGR? Let us know about your experiences!