Our next guest post comes from Sarah Lee, of Kalamazoo, MI. She is a total rockstar!

Foursquare Kalamazoo hosted its first Foursquare Day celebration recently with a two-day event packed with activities, specials and plenty of swag. Since Foursquare Day was on a Saturday, we wanted to build some hype leading up to the day itself to get businesses and local users aware of it by beginning the festivities on the Friday before it.

However before all the festivities took place, several things took place to help bring attention to Foursquare and Foursquare Day itself. As many other cities in the U.S. have taken the lead in proclaiming April 16 Foursquare Day, Kalamazoo followed suit and asked social media aficionado City of Kalamazoo Mayor Bobby Hopewell to declare April 16 Foursquare Day. We received our proclamation officially on March 30 and it was read on April 6 (Check out video proclamation here).

Next we talked to several businesses to claim their venue on Foursquare and offer a special on Friday during the festivities and also on Foursquare Day itself. Daniel Proczko from Apt2Labs and myself (Sarah Lee) actively pursued businesses downtown and surrounding areas, meeting with business owners and walking them through the venue claim process as well as setting up Foursquare campaigns. The official tally: More than 25 businesses claimed their venues and 14 businesses offered Foursquare Day specials.

As part of our groups (TweetUp Kalamazoo and Foursquare Kalamazoo) goal to have important community conversations through social engagement, we thought this would be a great opportunity to spread social good on Foursquare Day itself. We ran a breakfast food donation drive for Ministry with Community, a local community-based organization that provides food, daytime shelter and other basic services to central Kalamazoo’s homeless, poor, mentally ill and hard-to-serve adults. A hot heavy breakfast meal was uncommon for the members of the organization to experience and this was a great treat for many of them. Approximately $350 in breakfast food items were donated which comprised of a 30 pound box of bacon, 20 dozen eggs, packages of sausage links, dozens of jars of jam and honey, and a dozen cartons of orange juice to name a few.

The festivities:

On Friday we kicked off the festivities beginning at 5 p.m. with a tweetup featuring Stanford Smith from Pure Michigan as a guest presenter talking about tourism and social media. We had more than 30 people in attendance and we gained more people throughout the evening. Then followed by a progressive party to The Union Cabaret, Old Burdick’s, Harvey’s On The Mall, Central City Tap House and The Bureau. The final stop of the evening at The Bureau was a sneak preview of a new coworking space in downtown Kalamazoo that will be finished by late spring. To make the progressive party a little more engaging, we created a QR code scavenger hunt where participants had to find specific items that contained QR code clues at the different stops; some were hidden in pictures at the restaurants/pubs. Prizes were awarded to winners of the scavenger hunt, which included gift cards and certificates to Celebration! Cinema, Fontana Chamber Arts performance, Millennium Restaurant Group and Foursquare Day swag. For the crazy late night owls, a few of us went for breakfast at 2 a.m. at Crow’s Nest.

The following day on Saturday, a few of us volunteered to serve breakfast at 8 a.m. to the members of Ministry with Community – the donated breakfast items were served on this day. Staff at Ministry with Community cooked the breakfast food items and we helped with smaller tasks such as setting up the tables, scooping jam and peanut butter into individual servings, cutting fresh fruit, pouring juice into serving containers, serving plates of food to the members at the tables, but most of all connecting with the members. We served more than 120 members that morning ranging from families with small children to people with disabilities. Many members approached us and thanked us for providing breakfast that morning. We also learned a lot about Ministry with Community’s work with members and invited us back to help in the kitchen once again. Later towards noon, we met up at Studio Grill for a Foursquare Day lunch meetup and we got to meet folks that didn’t make it out to the festivities the night before.

Overall, we thought the celebrations went very well. In fact we got a fair amount of media coverage prior to the events that brought more awareness to our group and also to the Foursquare mobile application. People who came enjoyed themselves and also made a few new friends on Foursquare while earning some badges such as Player Please! and of course the Foursquare Day badge. We also gave away Foursquare badge buttons, made by Exquisite Corpse Gallery, and cool exclusive Foursquare Day Kalamazoo t-shirts designed by Andranika Tkachuk. We surely could not have pulled everything off without the help of so many volunteers and the support of great local businesses.

 

People to thank:

Dan Proczko – for the t-shirt hook up, designing posters/fliers, and getting businesses on board with Foursquare

Jeff Ray – for helping to set the overall vision for the festivities and developing the QR codes for the scavenger hunt

Becca Altman – for supporting all the pre-planning tasks of the festivities and driving up to Grand Rapids to pick up the t-shirts!

Constanza Aguirre – for buying last minute breakfast items with cash donations we received and helping with whatever we needed help with to make this happen

Andranika Tkachuk – for awesome t-shirt design

Mayor Bobby Hopewell –for working with us and helping us get the proclamation done

Exquisite Gallery Corpse – for making buttons in a short amount of time

Ministry with Community – for working with us the donation drive and also educating us on an important service in our community

The Vernon Group – for allowing us to show a sneak preview of The Bureau

The Wine Loft – for hosting our tweetup for the past one year

Tweetupkzoo and 4sqkzoo followers – thank you for spreading the word with tweets, retweets, Foursquare shouts and Facebook posts

 

Sponsors to thank:

Apt2Labs

Celebration! Cinema

Millennium Restaurant Group

Fontana Chamber Arts

Geek Easy

Frogsplash

All the anonymous sponsors – thank you!!!

 

Media coverage:

Ask My Millennial

Kalamazoo Gazette

Second Wave Media

Western Herald

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