Editor's Note: When social media first came on the scene, most institutions including private schools tended to dismiss it as something kids did. But Facebook and Twitter gained enormous traction once schools figured out how to use them effectively. With that in mind I asked Jeff Kirchick, a Roxbury Latin alum, to tell us about SCVNGR, one of the newest social media tools. He was kind enough to answer my questions. ~ Robert Kennedy.
1. SCVNGR is the newest social media tool on the scene. Tell us a bit about it, how it works and how it came into being?
Founded by CEO and “Chief Ninja” Seth Priebatsch, SCVNGR
started as a project at Princeton University. Noticing his friends’ fingers glued to their phones, Priebatsch wanted to come up with a way to leverage mobile technology as an engagement tool. SCVNGR started focusing on universities, museums, and other institutions but has now expanded to a business with more than 1000 partners and 65 employees.
Used as a recruitment and retention tool at over 350 Universities, SCVNGR is part game and part game platform. Playing is simple and students go places on campus, do challenges, and earn points. Students can play custom challenges and treks on SCVNGR’s iPhone/Android app or via SMS.
As a proud Roxbury Latin alum, Jeff Kirchick decided to introduce SCVNGR to independent high schools over the summer. Since July, Exeter, Andover, and Roxbury Latin have all signed on. In regards to the high school and university market specifically, SCVNGR is best described as an engagement and social media tool. By allowing users to post activity to Facebook or Twitter, SCVNGR helps schools generate powerful word of mouth marketing. While location based sites like Facebook Places revolve around the "check in," SCVNGR revolves around the “challenge.” Instead of serving solely as a location based social network, SCVNGR enables schools to build a game layer across campus.
2. SCVNGR is now used by hundreds of universities and colleges. Can you explain how that works? What are the benefits of using SCVNGR?
- Perpetual Content: College admissions offices build fun treks for students to play when they come for a tour or visit campus outside of regular visitation hours. Schools will also create custom content for special groups like honors college applicants, student-athletes, and parents, providing more depth than the student led tour can and keeping students and families on campus longer. Schools will also setup rewards on campus to engage current students. When a student visits the bookstore or food court they can do a fun campus challenge and earn points toward 10% off or a free cup of coffee over time.
- Events: In the past year SCVNGR has run over 1000 events on campuses across the country for both recruitment and retention purposes. These events range from icebreaker activities at campus preview weekends to resource treks for new student orientation. Alumni departments will also use SCVNGR as a way to reconnect alums with campus.
Schools find many benefits to using SCVNGR, the first and foremost being the “ROF” (return on fun). Players on campus have an unforgettable experience on campus through SCVNGR and generate powerful word of mouth marketing by posting their activity on Facebook and Twitter. Schools have seen the length of a typical visit increase as students spend more time on campus playing SCVNGR. Lastly, all Enterprise-level partners have access to SCVNGR Analytics so they will be able to track the number of players and see when stealth visitors come to campus.
3. How do you see SCVNGR being used in the private school environment?
SCVNGR will take on a similar role in the private school world as it does on college campuses across the country.
and Governor's Academy
are focusing primarily on recruitment and retention while Roxbury Latin will use SCVNGR for campus engagement events throughout the year. For Exeter and Andover, SCVNGR will help to increase the length of the campus visit, help fill waiting time before interviews, and highlight a few fun challenges for visitors to do on their standard tour. Both schools plan to offer activities to do outside of the student-led tour such as a "campus traditions" trek that will allow visitors to learn about Andover’s storied past and traditions and a "people trek" that allows visitors to interact with members of Exeter’s school community. They will also be leveraging this tool to highlight the area around them.
Roxbury Latin will use SCVNGR for events that are geared more toward alumni than prospective students. At Fall Family Day (Homecoming), RL will use SCVNGR to get alums to reconnect with campus. This makes the experience of coming back to RL a little bit more fun. Independent schools are small communities, so when they can find a tool like this that allows everyone to connect with one another - between current students, prospective students, parents, alumni, etc. - it is amazing!
You can experience SCVNGR by clicking on the Watch How to Play
link on the SCVNGR homepage.There's also a podcast on edSocialMedia