University seeks more involvement on social site

UNA student Daniel Swope checks in at the Gulliot University Center on campus. The UNA campus is littered with Foursquare venues.

UNA is currently seeking a more active, student-led Foursquare presence on campus.

Foursquare is an online network that allows users to check in at certain locations, follow locations of a circle of friends, and learn more about their community and environment in the process.

The network can be used to enhance the college experience in particular, said Jeremy Britten, UNA’s web communications manager.

Foursquare is currently promoting a new Foursquare for Universities program, which emphasizes exploration around campus and communication between students, alumni and staff.

Ray Lin, a marketing associate for Foursquare, is working to use this program in a way that will cater to the community around universities. He said it is catching on extremely well.

“(Schools are) realizing its potential to help students, alumni and staff connect with each other, find new and interesting things to do, and earn rewards for exploring their campus and nearby areas,” he said.

While UNA is not yet among the universities who use the program, Britten is working to improve the Foursquare presence which already exists.

“We’ve had a Foursquare presence for about a year—it has been a learning year to see what other schools are doing, what we can do and how many students are using it,” Britten said. “We’re starting to see more people using it now, which leads me to believe that it’s starting to be more desirable to students.”

He and other university officials are making an effort to take online ownership of UNA’s check-in locations. In doing so, the university is able to manage these locations and add various promotions and discounts for checking in there.

Most students who are familiar with the network agree that their main concern is security.

UNA sophomore Jonathan Oliphant said he used Foursquare for approximately a month last semester, but lost interest.

“I got uncomfortable being that much on the grid,” he said. “It’s great for businesses to use it for promotions, but I never used it like that, so I don’t see the point.”

UNA sophomore Mack Cornwell agrees.

“If I got benefits from using it, or if there were solid promotions, I would probably use it,” he said. “But I don’t care that people know where I am.”

Britten said security can be controlled if users limit the friends who can see their information.

Others, like UNA sophomore Abril Agnew, are actively using the network.

“It’s a great way to advertise special events on campus and get connected with others,” she said.

Britten said Foursquare is active on campus. In a year’s time, UNA has created 75 venues and has almost 24,000 all-time check ins.

“We’re in the growing phase as far as knowing what students want to see,” Britten said. “As we get further along, we’ll know what we can and should do. Our overarching goal is to get students to use this campus as their backyard. This is a beautiful campus and great place to hang out.”