Students used Facebook Places most often at sporting events.

Social media “check-in” services that let students tell their online friends where they are haven’t yet taken hold among most college decision makers, but a West Virginia University (WVU) report shows where that school’s “geosocial” loyalties lie.

The website foursquare was used almost twice as often as Facebook Places, the geosocial program launched last year by the social media giant, according to research released by David Olsen, a WVU programmer who details the school’s education-technology initiatives on a blog called Mobile In Higher Ed.

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Foursquare was among the first location-based social media programs designed for web-enabled smart phones, which are armed with GPS capabilities. Foursquare members check in at sporting events, restaurants, and other locations and earn points for each check in.

Launched in 2009, the website now has more than 10 million users.

Sixty-seven percent of students who checked in to a location on or around the WVU campus used foursquare, according to the research. Thirty-one percent used Facebook Places, and 2 percent used Gowalla, another popular geosocial option.

Earning points – and eventually badges and “mayorships” if they visit a place often enough – is what keeps college students coming back to foursquare, making the geosocial site more attractive to campus decision makers, Olsen said.


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