Social check-ins are not for everyone.
You may not be familiar with the term unless you own a recent smartphone – specifically an iPhone or an Android.
I’ll assume you fall into one of those two categories and continue on, or maybe you just are along for the ride at this point.
Just so we’re clear on the subject at hand:
I go back and forth on whether or not this is a “vain” thing to do, but they are kind of fun to use and I keep coming back to the fact that its a great way to log your visits or activities for your own memories.
Foursquare is a New York based location checkin service that has partnered with tons of retailers to distance itself from competitors. Retailers like it because its a unique way to increase branding, identity and loyalty, while giving them a new platform to inexpensively reach out to their customers by offering “specials” that can be earned from continued checkins. Users of the app are offered “badges” for accomplishing various goals via the checkins, and can earn a mayorship at specific retail locations if they are the most frequent visitor according to the app. Sometimes retailers offer those “mayors” unique discounts and specials when they return. There are 6.5 million users on Foursquare as of Feb, 2011.
Gowalla is similar to Foursquare, and is based in Austin, Texas. Gowalla doesn’t appear to have near the retailer clout and does not offer nearly the amount of retail specials that Foursquare does. Gowalla is more about the process of discovery, and does sometimes offer gifts or freebies at event checkins. For example – big web conferences often partner with Gowalla and offer up 10 free books to random checkins during the conference to participants. For awhile, I looked at Gowalla as the Facebook and Foursquare as the MySpace of social checkin apps. Meaning – Gowalla was more beautifully designed and easy to use, and Foursquare felt and looked more like the inferior MySpace. Foursquare has done a nice job of improving that interface though in recent months and I definitely say its UI has caught up with Gowalla. Gowalla is also known for its beautiful stamps – which can be custom created for vendors willing to pay a little for that extra professional touch. Gowalla also has unique things like “trips” where you set out to visit a related collection of spots and collect all the stamps along the way. Gowalla has around 1 millions users as of Feb, 2011.
GetGlue is a check-in service for entertainment – tv shows, movies, music, concerts, sports events and more. They offer a very tangible reward for loyalty and repeated check-ins. Stickers! You collect stickers along the way from the various entertainment sources who are looking to offer consumers a way to spread their brand. A common example is stickers that can be earned if you check-in for a new movie duing its opening weekend. GetGlue is *not* location based, since it doesn’t always apply (how would it know the proper location for you to check-in when watching a TV show – your house?) so its system can be “cheated”. There are definitely people out there earning stickers for shows they probably aren’t even watching just because they can. I try to stay true to what I’m actually watching because I feel like its another way for viewers to let the networks know which shows have loyal fans that should be “renewed” for a new season! 🙂 GetGlue reached 900K users in Jan, 2011.