Duke rounds up followers with foursquare

When it comes to foursquare, you don't need to wait until Election Day to become the mayor. You just need to check in. Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets. It allows users to "check in" at participating locations they visit throughout the day. Mayorships are based on the user who has checked in the most days in the past two months. From Perkins Library to Cameron Stadium, foursquare users at Duke can compete to become the "mayor" of a location. Duke opened a foursquare account in 2010 and now has nearly 18,000 followers. Foursquare is different from Facebook and Twitter because it isn't just about what you are doing, said Tim Bounds, the director of Duke Information Technology Services for student affairs. Foursquare requires users to share information about where and when you are logging in. "Using this type of location information, people are encouraged to actually visit places and attend events on campus," Bounds said. "Foursquare adds a location element to social media usage -- Facebook and Twitter both have location elements built in to their tools, but foursquare is more of a utility for connecting physical locations and events."Duke has locations outside of the Durham area too. During Coach K's quest to be the winningest coach in basketball, Duke created a list of check-ins all over the country noting memorable win locations over the years, from Greensboro to Minneapolis. Foursquare mayors are eligible for certain perks from the location where they check in most. For example, the Duke foursquare account has a special for mayors of both locations of The Refectory, one in the law school and one in the divinity school. Refectory mayors get free lunch on Fridays. If you don't check in often enough to become a mayor, you can also earn a "badge" by checking into locations several times."The game aspect of foursquare encourages people to get out and explore," Bounds said. "As you check in you gain points and earn badges, enabling some friendly competition among friends."The Duke account offers a list of where to eat on campus, as well as a list of all electronic printer, or ePrint, locations. Users can check in at printers to see which ones are working and which ones are out of service. The check-ins at ePrint locations have allowed the Office of Information Technology to create a map of printers that includes real-time status information, Bounds said."We are very interested in finding new ways to use the data available from foursquare to make this a valuable platform on campus," Bounds said. Cara Rousseau, Duke's social media manager, said the university's foursquare use is constantly evolving."We are investigating more ways undergraduate admissions can benefit from the tool by creating an admissions tour list of venues to visit and tips about things to do on campus," she said.Duke students are using foursquare on campus more and more. Senior Monica Hogan recently wrote an undergraduate admissions blog post for the university about social media on campus, praising foursquare."At Duke, I've found it to be a great resource," Hogan wrote. "When I arrive at the library late at night, preparing for a long evening of homework, I can check in to The Link and voila! Foursquare will tell me which of my friends are also hitting the books in the same place -- instant study-buddy locator!"