Friday, December 3, 2010

Check Yourself

There is a battle going on for your business. Its starts by letting the world know where you are and how great it is there.

As I browse the Android Market and its hundreds of thousands of apps I see more and more of them out there focused on creating a real-life game out of people's daily routines. The social check-in is the big thing right now. Some use it for discounts, some to get badges, and some who believe the world revolves around themselves and think we actually care where they are. There's even  a TV show in the works about it.

So while the Social Behavior and the psychology of why people like to share location information is an interesting topic, it involves waaay more research than I am willing to do for free. So, what I'd like to do is review the 2 biggest Apps out there for telling the world where you are: Foursquare SCVNGR.

Both have an extensive user base, both offer free stuff & discounts, & both want you to check in somewhere. However, when you break down their version of the "game" its a little different.


The "old man" when it comes to socially checking in at places. Foursquare's game is straight forward: check-in and leave tips for others. If you check in frequently to a particular location, you can become "Mayor". Some businesses reward their mayor for his/her patronage by offering special incentives that all other "non Mayors" can't get. This creates a huge competition for these coveted spots and it is thought to drive business for those locations. Foursquare also has a Badge System. So the more you check in, you become more eligible for badges. There are badges out there for everything: Going to work, Going to the Gym, Staying out late, Voting, etc). You name it, there's probably a badge for it. This is also a great way to invoke participation from the user base. Businesses can also create badges to drum up business and rewards. Apple, Sports Authority, & RadioShack are just a few that have done this. Is it working for these businesses? I don't know. This is where the "I need money for my research time" comes in. I can tell you with very little research that its working for Foursquare and they are growing like crazy. They are hiring in their NYC &  San Francisco offices. You can find me at I am always willing to add friends.


SCVNGR is a bit newer to the game, but is roping in clients like crazy also (GameStop, Journeys, & The New England Patriots to name a few). So what sets SCVNGR apart? Users still check-in to a location, they can still receive badges & cool stuff for completing certain check-ins. That's about where the similarities stop. SCVNGR uses a point system for users to accumulate points and play against friends. Its more of a healthy competition between Friends than Foursquare. SCVNGR also (in my opinion) is more based on the "social" aspect of the Social Check-in rewarding users more points if they check-in simultaneously with other users, take a picture or complete some other task at a venue. SCVNGR also has developed "Treks" which are a series of locations remotely close to one another in which a user must complete a challenge at a venue in order to complete that leg of the Trek. So not only do you rack up Points you also rack up completed Treks to brag about. Where SCVNGR has really found a niche is College Campuses. This is a great idea to get lazy college kids to class and become more active on Campus. I surely would have been more active at college if I got points (imaginary or real) for attending class. You can find me at I will score more points than you.

What about (insert app I haven't downloaded here)?

As mentioned prior, I'm not getting paid for this review and have to devote some time to Family & Work.  There are some other Apps out there that are worth mentioning that do this similar thing but I haven't had the time or willingness to try out. So here's a quick "Thanks for Playing" list:

Gowalla - Based out of Austin, TX. this app seems to be big at Colleges also but seems to favor the large Coastal Cities instead of the bubbling metropolis of St. Louis.

Facebook - Yes the giant has added a Locations feature to their site along with txt, email, and a whole bunch of other stuff. I like Facebook for what it is: A way for me to post links and make funny comments on peoples pictures. Thats it. I don't want to live in Facebook.

Brightkite - I will be honest. I don't know much about this app. It looks to incorporate some qualities of all of the above, but alas I have no funding and no bias.

Who Cares?

This over-sharing of one's self might be a little too much for some people to handle or really even care about for that matter. However, its nice to keep your daily routine somewhat on its toes if you can potentially rewarded for just living your life. I for one really strive on encouragement and these types companies do a good job at keeping me active and trying new stuff.

Ok, so thats my rundown on the social check-in and my humble opinion on the 2 big players (read: downloaded on my phone).

Did I miss anything? Want to tell me about how great some other Apps are? I want to hear about it.

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