For those who wanted to rule the school, but never had the chance, the University of Wisconsin’s community just may be bowing down to them – virtually, that is.
UW officials announced their presence on the social networking site Foursquare Wednesday, enabling people to become the mayor of a given location simply by “checking-in” the most.
The site works on mobile devices via applications for smartphones such as the Apple iPhone and Android, and allows users to check-in to places with their cell phones.
For locations listed on Foursquare, users can also add tips about the locations, which other people can view when they check-in.
In addition to these promotional aspects, UW spokesperson John Lucas said UW also focused on the social networking aspect.
Foursquare connects with the social networking site Facebook, so when users check-in the location appears on the News Feed of their friends.
Lucas said the process started nine months ago from Foursquare-loving UW employees who thought UW could benefit from the mobile app.
Becoming involved cost no money on UW’s part, only the time it took to create a logo and add tips for places, Lucas said.
With the significant prevalence of smartphones on campus, Lucas said the move also made sense because Foursquare is the fastest growing mobile platform in the market right now.
Currently UW has 396 followers on Foursquare, but Lucas said the first universities to participate, such as Harvard, have 10,000 followers or more.
As an occasional user of Foursquare, UW senior Saul Hafenbredl said he thinks becoming part of the wave is good anticipation on UW’s part, but the app could prove to be more than originally bargained for.
If it becomes most widely used as a social tool, Hafenbredl said, the app would be no different than the Places feature on Facebook.
However, local businesses offer incentives to patrons who become the mayor of their establishment, something he thinks could prove difficult for UW.
“It’d be more like running a never ending sweepstakes campaign,” Hafenbredl said of incentives. “It could be more complicated than they’ve considered.”
As of right now, Lucas said ascending to the mayorship of a particular place will earn the mayor glory only, not prizes.