Does your organization have a public physical location, such as a museum? Do you host a lot of on-site advocacy or volunteer events? If so, FourSquare — a social networking application that tracks your physical location and lets you easily “check-in” to tell friends where you are — could be worth exploring.
This relatively new tool is only now becoming known to a more mass-market audience. Organizations are still experimenting to see whether it can be useful, and how, but it has some interesting applications for nonprofits with a significant geographic presence.
You add your venue into the application, and people “check-in” via their phone when they arrive — FourSquare then will tell friends where they are, usually via their mobile phone, spreading the word. The person who checks into your venue most frequently becomes known as the “mayor” in FourSquare, providing additional incentive for people to check in.
Nonprofits are just beginning to use it, and FourSquare shares some interesting case studies on its site. You might offer discounts to the current “mayor” of your venue, or to all who “check-in” during a specific time frame, or show photos of everyone who checks in on your website. Or, you could treat users who check-in frequently as super-activists and engage them to spread the word further.
In general, the benefit is that getting people to check in could boost attendance and awareness among their followers, increasing your own audience. There’s a lot of public conversation about the privacy issues posed by applications that reveal location, but such concerns have much more important implications for individuals than for organizations.