No doubt a subject that is hotly contested, and will be more so with the injection of Facebook Places, and whatever likely competitor someone like Google comes up with next, is the subject of “Check-in apps”. Expected to be the next big social media craze, the concept of being able to “check-in” to your current location with your smart phone seems to be unleashing what seems to be becoming an exponential amount of apps. Apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and Facebook Places has already brought about more reward oriented apps that incorporate with those, such as WeReward, Waze, and SCVNGR, just adding to the enticement of being part of the latest trend.
The essence of these apps are to allow you to check in to locations you’re at, announcing to your friends where you are or have been for the day. As a user, it’s a fun little games you can play along with, earning badges or possibly becoming “Mayor” of locations you frequent such as on Foursquare. As a business, it’s a great tool to help promote yourself and possibly bring in new customers, businesses such as Starbucks and American Eagle offer bonuses or discounts to Mayors of their locations, it’s the latest and greatest marketing campaign, that’s only expanding with the added apps like WeReward, which rewards you with points that can eventually be cashed out for real money, simply for visiting a certain business or restaurant and taking a picture of yourself with their product. Perfect example: For one day a few weeks ago, if you visited Subway, which is typically worth around 30 points, you gained 300 instead. Once the number of users grow on such apps, bonuses such as these on special days will probably be on the increase, as the news spread rapidly on Twitter and other sites about the 300 points at Subway.
So far, all these “check-ins” have been controllable on who viewed them. You had the power to choose if you posted your check-ins on Twitter and/or Facebook. I’ll come out and admit it, I use Foursquare, I don’t have that many friends locally, and its mostly a one man entertainment for me, but I’m very cautious of when and where I upload my check-ins. I see no need to let all my friends on Facebook see that I’ve checked into Olive Garden on a Saturday evening. There are way too many people on Facebook that could see that, especially if I hadn’t setup my security settings. There are even sites such as PleaseRobMe.com, that shows a stream of only Foursquare check-ins on Twitter. my big issue is that Facebook, in trying to jump into the latest craze, has opened up a can of worms with their new check-in system. (Which I do not use). Sure I play around with Foursquare (attempted Gowalla but had to many issues not being able to check in with it) but I maintain control of who sees what, when. With Facebook, if you check-in on Facebook, it’s there for all of your friends to see. Sure the argument could be that the information on Foursquare and others is still out there to be found if someone wanted to, but that’s a known risk that is taken by signing up for such things. You still maintain more control then you do on Facebook. I understand that business aspects of pushing out Facebook places, I do, but when people are being warned not to post pictures while their on vacation because it could potentially announce to the wrong people you’re not at home, they now have a means to basically post it on a billboard!
Ultimately, just like when you post vacation pictures, if you choose to “check-in” is up to you. I feel that out of all the options, if you want to play around with it, Foursquare is your better choice in that in allows you to better control the flow of information, and protects your privacy better than others (and WeRewards works with it too to add a little extra game to it all). At the end of the day though, just like everything else, the decision is yours to make.
- SCVNGR’s Seth Priebatsch Talks About Geo-Location Wars, Facebook Places and More! (kara.allthingsd.com)
- Facebook Places Explained (mindjumpers.com)
- Foursquare breaks 3 million users, now tells you when you’ll be mayor (downloadsquad.com)