Expand your Chapter’s Reach with Location-based Social Media

Photo by Foursquare

Picture this: Anita wakes up Saturday morning, pours a cup of coffee and begins thinking about how to spend the weekend. Instead of reaching for the newspaper, she pulls up the Foursquare app (1) on her Smartphone (2) and sees an update from her friend Rob, who is at the Aullwood Audubon Center for a volunteer event. She thinks, "Maybe I should check that out!"

Yvonne and her friends are having coffee on a sunny afternoon, debating what to do next. See a movie, take a walk, or go shopping? Yvonne consults Foursquare and says, "Look, we can get 10% off of a boat tour at the Prospect Park Audubon Center with our first Foursquare check in!" With this incentive in mind, the group heads to the Center for the day.

Location-based social media platforms offer Audubon Chapters and Centers yet another way to reach new audiences. Foursquare, the most popular of these platforms (3), is a website and mobile application that is easily accessible through cell and smart phones. Users "check in" at venues either through a mobile website, text messaging, or application downloaded on their phone and then select from a list of venues that are located nearby.

Foursquare's 6.5 million users (4) might seem small in comparison to Facebook's 500 million plus (5), but Foursquare grew 3,400% last year, so if your potential volunteers aren't on Foursquare yet, there's a good chance they will be soon!

Just like other social media platforms, registering your center or event on Foursquare enables it to become searchable. Users in your area will be able to find your event when they scan for nearby check-ins. Also, each time someone at your event checks in, Foursquare will announce their location (A.K.A. your event) to everyone in their network. Since many users link their Foursquare profile to Facebook and Twitter, you are opening up the potential to broadcast your event across those social networks as well with a single click.

Setting up an event on Foursquare can be done in 5 easy steps:

  • Go to Foursquare.com
  • Create an account or sign in.
  • Search to see if your Center or event space is already listed. If it is, click the "Do You Manage This Venue? Claim here" at the top right. If it is not listed, go to www.foursquare.com/add_venue
  • Add your Center or volunteer location and any upcoming events you're hosting.
  • To be safe, create your venue or event location ahead of time. Try and set up your first event a month out so you have time to "claim" your venue. In order to ensure you are in fact the right person to manage the space, Foursquare will mail a letter to the location, so give yourself enough time.

This free social media application is another tool in your toolbox to help you connect with younger and diverse audiences, but if your target volunteer group is an older crowd, don't rule Foursquare out! The fastest growing demographic turning to social media is adults over 50.(6)


If you have any questions about getting started with Foursquare, please contact Elizabeth Sorrell


  1. Web application, or software, that is designed for use on mobile phones
  2. A mobile phone with advanced computing ability and connectivity
  3. Data from TechCrunch.com
  4. Data from AboutFoursquare.com
  5. Data from Facebook.com
  6. Data from PewInternet.org