How Nonprofits Can Get The Most Out Of Foursquare

February 13, 2012

This article was originally published in Social Media Today.

Location-based social platforms like Foursquare are making good use of the opportunities the social and mobile web offer. Foursquare is continually adding more features to make the world easier to use and explore. Many nonprofits are using these features on Foursquare to amplifying their messaging to new and old audiences alike. Here are some tactics for making the most of what you have to offer on Foursquare and some of the nonprofits doing just that.

Insightful Tips from LIVESTRONG

With the creation of Foursquare pages, nonprofits were able to have a place on the web to create Foursquare tips about various locations of interest. These tips live on a branded page on the web, but most importantly appear as tips on different Foursquare venues accessed via the mobile application. When a user checks-in on their phone they’ll see this tip listed among the other tips at the location. This tip is different because it came from a nonprofit, not another user you may not even know. Let’s take a quick look at how LIVESTRONG is leaving powerful tips that resonate past the 200 character limit.


Livestrong Tip

LIVESTRONG helped amplify their message of living a healthy lifestyle with users in the Foursquare community by writing 70 tips about popular places throughout the California area. The innovative part about some of these tips is that they included a Read More link that led to a relevant page on LIVESTRONG’s website. For instance, the tip above leads to a food, fitness and equipment diary tool that helps keep track of their pursuit of a healthy lifestyle. Another tip lead to a page on their site with a tool to help you plan your next bike ride, while another leads to a sushi nutrition guide. LIVESTRONG took their messaging to the locations their audiences were visiting and brought them tips that went beyond just Foursquare but incorporated the assets of their website as well.


Give Blood, Check in & Earn an American Red Cross Badge

Badges are awarded throughout Foursquare as a means of rewarding various achievements like your first check-in, your first check-in with a friend or even checking into the same place three times in one week. Nonprofits can become a part of this fun Foursquare feature by creating their own partner badge to be rewarded after a certain type of check-in. The American Red Cross did just this with their very own Partner Badge. Every time a Foursquare user checks-in at an American Red Cross blood drive, they receive this badge in return for giving blood at this location. The badge serves as a thank you and a reminder on your Foursquare account to remember to donate blood with the Red Cross at a later date.

Red Cross Foursquare Badge

Using Lists to Highlight Your Mission

The list feature allows users or a Foursquare page owner to collate their own list of locations based around the topic of their choosing. Here a nonprofit can select a few venues and highlight their insider tips at these various locations. Users can follow these lists, picking and choosing which lists are relevant to them, giving your audience another opportunity to follow your nonprofit and your messaging. Not as many nonprofits are making use of the list feature on their Foursquare page as you would hope, but here’s a suggestion from a nonprofit using lists and another that should be using lists.

Foundation Center Bio

The Foundation Center is the world’s leader in providing information on philanthropy, fundraising and grant programs. Their Foursquare page doesn’t currently have any tips on it, but the nonprofit is using a list on their page to highlight all the locations of their offices. It’s wonderful they’re using the list feature to highlight the structure of their organization, but they could certainly take this feature farther. By adding a few tips and lists to their page about different locations (like libraries, nonprofits, think tanks, etc) where users can get information on philanthropy, fundraising, and grant programs; it would go a long way towards turning their Foursquare page into a powerful resource.

Another nonprofit that could really succeed by using Foursquare lists is the National Wildlife Federation. Their page is currently filled to the brim with 200+ valuable tips about a plethora of locations throughout the United States where wildlife can be observed and enjoyed. By simply grouping these tips into lists centered around states, parks, zoos, museums or by the type of wildlife being observed; it could help organize the helpful tips, give users another way to follow the NWF and another opportunity for users to take part in the nonprofit’s mission.

Communicate at Advocacy Events & Conferences

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. Which nonprofits are currently doing this? Too many to count! It’s such a simple networking tool that many nonprofits use it as a complement to other networking tactics at these events.

Is your non-profit using Foursquare? Tell us in the comments!