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This month, my Blog of the Month is In two recent blog posts, King explores: Foursquare and Libraries – Anything There? and Foursquare and Libraries – Definitely Something There!

For those of you not in the know (which is a vast majority of people at this point), Foursquare is one of the big websites under the location-based social networking umbrella. Location-based social networking is a stalker’s dream. Using mobile email, text message or smartphone GPS, location-based social networking allows users to share their location, find friends in their vicinity, and share reviews, tips or recommendations on an establishment they are visiting.

As a location-based social networking user, I have to say, it’s pretty fun. I get to compete with my fiance to check in at more places than he does. At the same time, I worry that advertising my location to the world could be dangerous. That gut reaction to the concept of location-based social networking is what kept me off of this family of social sites for a long time.

But here I am. A fully-addicted Foursquare user. What finally made me bite the bullet was finding my place of work on Foursquare, and as the social media specialist, I was obliged to hop on board.

Now I’m the Mayor of 7 places on Foursquare. Mayorships are earned by checking in more than anyone else at a given location. Becoming the Mayor of a location allows you to edit the location’s Foursquare listing, including correcting the spelling/capitalization of the location’s name and adding its appropriate Twitter account.

Hold On! Is it safe???

The short answer: yes. You’re listed by your first name and last initial. Sharing your Twitter and Facebook accounts with Foursquare users is optional, and sending your Foursquare check-ins to Twitter or your friends is optional. Pings are another option you can enable or disable for a given Foursquare friend. In my case, the only time I Tweet anything I do on Foursquare is when I become the Mayor of a location. The only pings I have turned on are my fiance’s, i.e. I get a text when he checks in somewhere that lets me know where he is. Sorry, other 4sq friends, I don’t care that you’re at the liquor store for the third night in a row.

foursquare image A brief run-down of what you need to know about leveraging Foursquare for your library or non-profit:

As with any social network, get on early, even if the network could fizzle in a year. Establishing a presence for your social network early (I hesitate to use the phrase “stake out,” but that’s kind of what you need to do here) can be important. Foursquare is a perfect example. If you don’t add your library/organization to Foursquare, someone else will. And they’ll probably add it wrong. Or forget to include your Twitter handle. Or get your address wrong, or worse, YOUR ORGANIZATION’S NAME. I speak from experience.

Become a “SuperUser.” On Foursquare, super users have  the ability to edit listings. Also, in the process of becoming a super user, it’s likely you’ll become the mayor of your place of work, which gives you the power to edit (read: correct) the listing. Wikipedia’s description of superusers. I’m willing to argue that being a superuser is more valuable to your organization than being the Mayor of its location(s). Having correct information about your organization and having a link to your organization’s Twitter accounts should be a priority with Foursquare. Think about it: having a direct link from your Foursquare listing that patrons can access right on their phone. They add you because you’re on Foursquare. Through that, they find your blog. And so it goes. 🙂

Add Tips & To-dos. This indicates to your patrons that you care that they’re on Foursquare and know what’s up with the latest social media trends. For-profit businesses use Foursquare to advertise specials for people who check in at their establishment on certain days. For-profit businesses in big Foursquare towns have also been known to offer free coffee or an appetizer for their latest Mayor. As a non-profit, don’t worry about the incentives unless you’ve got some old swag laying around to get rid of. Focus instead on using Foursquare to highlight the services you offer.

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