Citizens of Chicago, your next mayor might just be your most active Foursquare user, if the people behind The Foursquarian Candidate have anything to do with it. On November 1st, the Foursquare user with the most check-ins at the City of Chicago – Mayoral HQ location – in other words, the Mayor of that location – will be named the Foursquarian Candidate and will be given enough funding and support to be officially placed on the ballot for the February 2011 Chicago Mayoral election. This is one of the most interesting political uses of Foursquare we’ve seen, and we’ll take a more in-depth look at how Foursquare could lead to a political win below the jump.
Foursquariancandidate.com is the online hub for aspiring Foursquare politicians. It outlines the three simple steps that Foursquare users can take to become a real mayoral candidate: Friend them and check in to the City of Chicago – Mayoral HQ location on Foursquare; include your campaign message in the shout field with each check-in; and check-in as many times as you can. That’s all it takes to become the Foursquarian Candidate.
And just in case you were thinking this was some sort of spoof or ploy to garner visibility for Foursquare, take a look at “The Rules” section of the website: they list all of the rules and regulations that the City of Chicago has in place for any aspiring mayoral candidate, and they caution that the prospective Foursquarian Candidate should be sure that he or she can meet all requirements. This is a serious bid to put a Foursquare candidate on the ballot.
Kevin Lynch, the Creative Lead at Proximity Chicago, the group behind the Foursquarian Candidate, has this to say about why Foursquare was the social network of choice for selecting a mayoral candidate:
“Foursquare was a natural social network to use for Foursquarian Candidate because it already has a “mayor” role playing a significant part of the experience. Plus, you have to admit – if people are heavy users of foursquare, they likely have some extra time on their hands. Considering how busy the job of Chicago Mayor is, it’s good to attract candidates who have time to do it.”
The team behind the Foursquarian Candidate promises support to the Foursquare Mayor after he or she has won the title. On November 1st they will announce the Mayor of City of Chicago – Mayoral HQ, and between the 1st and the 15th (when candidates must submit their bid), they will help with campaign materials, branding, and getting the required 12,500 signatures from local citizens.
Using social media to propel under-funded political hopefuls onto the ballot is an interesting way to level the playing field. Ultimately, Lynch says, this is all about exposure for the average joe:
“Our goal is to level the playing field for candidates by giving everyone access to speak their minds in the same venue. For example, if a candidate was, say, spending his weekdays working in Washington DC, no one in Chicago is going to be familiar with him. The Foursquarian Candidate gives a guy like that a chance to be heard and known to Chicagoans. Who knows – maybe we can help an unknown candidate like that get elected.”