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UW-Madison “checks in” to foursquare presence

Who’s the mayor of UW-Madison? Biddy Martin? Bret Bielema? Bucky? Barry? Actually, it could be you.

UW-Madison recently joined the ranks of a select group of universities with its own branded presence on the Foursquare social networking platform.

Foursquare, which is accessible via mobile phones and smartphones, is a fast-growing, location-based social networking site, travel guide and game.

Users of the service download an app, which accesses the GPS in their smartphones to allow them to “check in” in to places around the world, based on their actual location. When they do so, users can receive tips and information, win mythical “mayorships” and badges for frequent visitors and even be rewarded with discounts and giveaways.

In just over one month on Foursquare, UW-Madison already has more than 300 users, placing it in the top 20 of all universities on the service.

It adds to existing university efforts to engage the campus community, alumni, visitors and prospective students through social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.

Numerous campus buildings and facilities are already listed in the service (including CALS’ Babcock Dairy Store, Allen Centennial Gardens and D.C. Smith Greenhouse), along with dozens of insider tips and info. The service essentially creates a campus guide that encourages participants to be adventurous and explore spaces in the community.

The application also turns social networking into a running competition by creating incentives for users to explore campus, discover new venues, and make recommendations to the entire Foursquare network.

Plans are in the works to create rewards for mayors of various campus locations. Also, Foursquare will be enabling five special university badges for users with specified quantities of check-ins at venues tagged as libraries, sports stadiums, commons areas and campus cafes/dining halls.

“There is a lot to like about Foursquare, and not everyone will use it for the same reasons,” says Charlie Gorichanaz, a UW-Madison Foursquare ambassador.

“Competitive, connected types will appreciate the gamelike points system, where users accumulate points for checking into venues around campus and the city,” he says. “The practical student will enjoy seeing tips left by others for restaurants, buildings and other venues around him. Anyone can contribute tips and benefit from them, and the more who do, the better everyone’s experience will be.”

“Personally, I love having a record of all the places I’ve visited, so I can track how often I’ve been to the SERF or how many times I actually made it to my physical chemistry lab,” he adds.

Use of Foursquare is at the discretion of the individual user, and privacy settings are easy to customize. All have the option to play “off the grid” to avoid sharing location information if they so choose.

A Foursquare account can be tied to Facebook and Twitter accounts to share with friends on other platforms, but posting to other services can be easily turned on and off.

For details and to follow UW-Madison on Foursquare, visit http://www.foursquare.com/UWMadison

University Badges:

Foursquare has created five badges specifically for universities along with special “unlock rules” by which a user earns, or “unlocks” the badge.

*Bookworm Bender: check in to any designated study area/library after midnight. [library, classroom]

*Munchies: check in to five different campus cafes or dining halls.

*Quad Squatter: check in to a quad or commons 10 times.

*Smells like School Spirit: check in at any sports stadium, field or complex five times.

*Campus Explorer: check in to 10 different campus locations.