Social media site an ‘academic supplement’ to Facebook

The new CampusLive will let students migrate their Facebook information.
The new CampusLIVE will let students migrate their Facebook information.

Instead of a Facebook news feed cluttered with tidbits about friends’ FarmVille progress, Boris Revsin wants a social media site that alerts college students to the latest in academic news from their peers—information that could connect students and form study groups.

Since 2007, has been a one-stop shop for college students looking for local eats, perusing campus headlines, and connecting to their school’s library.

And Revsin, a former University of Massachusetts Amherst student and CEO of CampusLIVE, said the site’s next iteration will allow users to pull their Facebook profiles into a more academically-focused site dedicated to campus goings on.

“They need something that connects their social lives with their educational lives,” said Revsin, 24, whose staff consists mostly of men in their early-to-mid-20s. “This isn’t a web site for rumors or gossip. It’s not like other sites where people just post things anonymously. You can have real conversations with real people … about serious academic issues.”

Revsin said there is no official launch date for CampusLIVE’s Facebook integration. The site has created home pages for 226 colleges and universities nationwide. Boston-area investors have invested more than $300,000 in CampusLIVE, Revsin said, adding that he couldn’t reveal the donors’ names yet.

The company has begun a “larger funding round” after growing from a site that served 18 schools in 2008. CampusLIVE marketed partly through distributing gift cards and other goodies to students who mentioned the site on their Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, or blogs.

If CampusLIVE student users choose to have their Facebook profile information migrated to the new CampusLIVE social networking feature, friends will be able to see which classes they’re taking, making it easier to connect with others enrolled in the same course, Revsin said.

The CampusLIVE social network also will tell students which dormitories their friends live in, and the site will find users’ “trends” if many friends have joined a specific class or plan to attend to campus study group.

Bradford Devins, a UMass Amherst sophomore who frequents CampusLIVE, said a social media site centered on academics and populated by a student’s friends from Facebook could help students make educational connections with people they’re already familiar with.

“They try to put everything on one page without the awkward social interaction at first,” said Devins, who added that CampusLIVE’s links to nearby restaurants and transportation options has made it easier for freshmen to adjust to college life. “People have a better time relating to people they already know on Facebook. … They can get over that initial point of trying to get to know somebody, so [CampusLIVE] is great for getting used to life on campus.”

CampusLIVE’s new social media features could be a welcome break for college students who have grown tired of the minutia of the ever-present, ever-changing Facebook news feed, filled with friends’ thoughts on pop culture and their latest trip to the DMV.

Facebook “has drawn away from the academic aspect of things,” he said. “And I think CampusLIVE focuses much more on school life … which is something students look for.”

CampusLIVE started three years ago when Revsin, who started at UMass Amherst in 2004, collected links to menus from restaurants on and around campus. His friends asked him for the list of links, so Revsin created a web site giving students easy access to local food options.

Within a couple weeks, thousands of UMass Amherst students had visited the site. Restaurants saw an uptick in business, and Revsin began charging a premium for local restaurants advertising on his site.

“Students just heard about it virally,” he said. “I knew at that point that it was more than just a hobby.”

Revsin said the CampusLIVE social media site will take on a more serious tone than college-centric gossip sites like JuicyCampus, which allowed users to anonymously post expletive-laden screeds and rumor-filled innuendo about classmates before the site was shut down last year.

“People don’t want anonymity, they want verification and they want to know who they’re talking to,” he said. “At the end of the day, I think those models [like JuicyCampus] will crash and burn.”

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