We have talked about Foursquare, the social network and geo-tagging software that offers opportunities to share your experiences at businesses and organizations of all types. The platform is a comparative newcomer, having been launched by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai in 2009. But as of this April its membership has swelled to over 50 million. Unusual for a social platform, Foursquare’s members are pretty evenly divided between men and women and between US and worldwide users.
Communications consultants have been eager to find ways to leverage Foursquare’s appeal for nonprofits, so let’s see the interesting things that have been developing over the last year or so.
What makes the platform a still-growing opportunity is that it is built expressly for mobile devices. People check in, share information, and engage their peers expressly through their phones and tablets, and Foursquare lets their followers know where they are when they check in.
Though businesses were quick to jump on the platform for word-of-mouth recommendations, the folks at Foursquare have, and Foursquare − like its big brethren in the social-media universe − offers pages for nonprofits. They encourage nonprofits to consider three ways to develop interaction with the platform, all technically free (but resources and money are required for their development).
- create a branded Page (and, in very specific cases, a)
- offer Specials for charitable donations (either at your own venues or with a retail partner)
- utilize the foursquare developer platform to build something custom for your organization.
The first is fairly easy (no more difficult than). The second might involve developing face-to-face relationships with local businesses ready to support your organization. The nonprofit page at Foursquare tells the example CampInteractive, who worked with The Gap to get donations to the camp every time a customer checked in to Foursquare at a Gap Store. The third could take the most specialized set of skills and require a longer-term strategy for how your organization will develop its interactive app.
Partner Badges encourage interaction for reward − rather like a merit badge in the Boy & Girl Scouts. They entice Foursquare members to interact with your organization at numerous venues and opportunities, which will develop relationships that can lead to donations of time and money.how The Red Cross, Livestrong, and The National Wildlife Foundation have all extended their networks of supporters with the platform and badges.
Foursquare can be a wonderful way for nonprofits to network at their annual advocacy event or national conference. First off, simply check-in as your organization to let other nonprofits and attendees know that you’re there and ready to collaborate. By monitoring check ins at an event like the Nonprofit Technology Conference, you can quickly see who some of the conference attendees are and prepare yourself for networking online and offline.
So Foursquare has definitely expanded its outreach toward the nonprofit world. Is your nonprofit or charity taking advantage of the opportunity?