Alumni Check-In on FourSquare

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Alumni can attest that the environments that make up their campus memories are much more than mere structures. The fields they played on, the libraries they studied at, the dorms they lived in and the cafeterias where they ate all played an integral role in their personal development. So, when we heard how Syracuse University and Skidmore College are leveraging these influential environments to connect alumni back to their alma mater, we wanted to make sure to share with our readers.

Separated by a 3 hour drive along Route 90 in Upstate New York, Skidmore College and Syracuse University are two institutions that are currently (and actively) using FourSquare as part of their admissions, student life and alumni strategy. FourSquare is a mobile and location-based platform in which users can “check-in” into the places that they visit; see here for a nice video explanation.

Skidmore College decided to take command of their FourSquare account this past Fall once it realized that it already had an active audience engaging with it. As noted by Skidmore’s Online Community Manager, Daniella Nordin, “social media needs to fulfill a purpose…so, as soon as we noted people were using the platform and leaving tips around campus, we decided to contact FourSquare to create our business account.”

To get started Daniella contacted FourSquare to create Skidmore’s official business page. In terms of setting up their free account, Daniella noted that the FourSquare staff was “very helpful” in getting their custom banner up and running, and that they were eager to assist with list suggestions and to provide free FourSquare swag.

Syracuse’s connection to the popular geo-location platform, however, dates back to the company’s start, as FourSquare’s founder Dennis Crowley and his brother, Director of Media Partnerships, Jonathan Crowley are Syracuse alumni. Since launching their official page on campus, the Cuse’ has also benefited from a FourSquare campus Ambassador, @stostman, and “Super Users” such as @JoshuaVJohn.

Once joining Syracuse University in June 2011 Kate Brodock, Executive Director of Digital and Social Media, explained that her team worked to clean up the bank of venues on campus and properly tag everything (i.e. sorority houses v. residence halls). Kate also mentioned how she is currently collaborating with SU’s Director of Design and Construction in an effort to sticker the whole campus.

Both schools have run a more than few fun campaigns that have been effective in connecting their communities.

For example, Skidmore has developed a campus tour for first time visitors. Those who check-in at all locations receive a free lunch ticket. As for those who claim “mayorship” by hitting the books at the library and check-in there most frequently, they receive a free study gift basket when finals come around.

Beyond connecting with prominent alumni to create recommended lists, Syracuse University has internally created a “Best Places to Catch the Cuse” — a list specifically targeting nearby alumni hangouts to catch SU Athletics in action. To encourage current student activity, and in-turn increasing content for alumni to consume, Syracuse also ran a lemonade pong table on this past FourSquare Day. Even at graduation, Syracuse has given recent grads the ability to check-in to the real world!

Skidmore and Syracuse have both seen excellent engagement results from using the platform. Syracuse has received nearly 700,000 check-ins from over 70,000 unique visitors since launching FourSqaure, and within their first year Skidmore has already claimed over 40 different venues as their own. As noted by Daniella, “for as much time as I put into, and how easy it is to set up, FourSquare is a free and awesome tool for our school to use across multiple departments.”

Does your advancement office use FourSquare? If so, what techniques have been most helpful?


View our webinar, The Loomis Chaffee Social Media Play Book to learn how to get started on new platforms like Pinterest and Google+, and see how to better your efforts on Facebook and Twitter.

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