Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook (Places). The big three names in the check-in space where a user registered they have visited a location by checking-in there.
When I talk about check-ins I get three types of responses:
- I don’t see the point
- I forget to check-in
- I love it
1. I don’t see the point
Check-ins are used (by me) to tell people where I am. They are used to register my interest in a location. I visited a cool new bar last night – therefore I’m knowledgeable about new stuff in my area. I also have to admit I use it as a game – I feel a certain amount of satisfaction when I become ‘mayor’ of a location and my friends see that.
Foursquare (the biggest and best player – 18/11/10) also offers location based deals – “become the mayor and get a free pizza”, “20% off food if you check-in today” etc.
This is a truly useful way to engage a digital audience into spending real world money. And it brings together the world of real-time internet, location based commentary, and constantly connected internet devices. As a user I can see the latest offers and tips in real-time, I can filter my interest by where I am in the world and I can use the power of the internet to receive and push content when I’m most engaged.
2. I forget to check-in
OK, so I don’t check-in everywhere and I sure as hell, aren’t one of those people who pull out their phone every 5 minutes but I do try and check-in when I remember. There is a great application out there which automatically checks you in to your favourite places when you are close by. This is useful, but be warned it can check you in when you are only close by. So if you’re walking past your favourite pub at 8:30 in the morning there is a good chance you will automatically get checked-in, so be careful.
3. I love it
Ye, me too. Try visiting a new city and finding a good restaurant. Now try the same using Foursquare. I will bet on you having a much better experience with Foursquare. Foursquare has the right balance between ratings and Related Location Content (RLC) so if you are looking for an Italian restaurant you will get Italian restaurants next door and highly rated, user reviewed Italian restaurants a little further away giving you the chance to decide whether you are willing to travel that little bit further.
People like to be part of a closed club and what better club than a group of people will the same interested all existing within a 5 mile radius? More and more people are going to use location based services to find content that they can actually engage with. If Web 2.0 has changed society in any way it is that we are all a lot more niche than we used to be. Location based services and the internet of things will push us that step further.