Photo: Carter Oswood
Ladies and gentlemen, Des Moines just became a little bit cooler.
With the help of a new social media strategies course being offered at Drake this semester, the city of Des Moines now has its very own Foursquare badge.
“I think it just shows that we can flex our little muscles and show that we can be an interesting small city,” said junior Chelsey Teachout, a member of the social media strategies class.
The social media site, which allows users to check in to various locations and leave tips or deals for other users, announced on Feb. 8 that Des Moines was one of five cities to earn its own badge.
After a classmate got wind of the national contest, which was inspired by the White House #visitUS tourism initiative, the journalism class focused all of its efforts on making Des Moines even more Foursquare friendly.
The contest rules limited the number of locations that could be included on each list to between 20 and 30 locations, forcing the group to make some tough decisions.
“That was a big challenge, too, because there’s a lot of great places in Des Moines, but we couldn’t include all of them,” said junior Rebecca Mataloni, who is also enrolled in the social media strategies class.
One of the largest challenges was simply raising awareness about the cause and finding people who would take an interest in it.
“The truth is that most Drake students and people in Des Moines are not on Foursquare,” said Chris Snider, an instructor of practice in multimedia who teaches the social media strategies class. “So we had to either find the ones who were or convince new people to join.”
Students gained momentum for their campaign through posters hung around campus as well as the use of other social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.
“We tweeted the Des Moines Register and different places that we had included on the list so that they would retweet us to all of their followers,” Mataloni said.
If anything, this Foursquare nod tells Iowans one important thing: Des Moines is an up-and-coming place to be.
“I think this is just one more thing that shows how great of a city Des Moines has become,” Snider said. “The fact that the social media community in Des Moines embraced this project by a group of Drake students shows how great the people are here.”
With the successful use of social media, the group not only marketed its cause but also found a practical application to what they have been learning in the classroom.
“It’s really showed me about how there can be a whole uprising, a social movement through social media,” Teachout said.
Other cities that earned badges through the contest include Baltimore, Richmond, Va., Oklahoma City and Stamford, Conn.