An article in Business Week raises some good points and touches on a topic that I’ve been thinking about for some time now… is social location check-in getting old? Like other social techno geeks, I frequently check-in to my social media profiles using some of the fun, mobile services out there including: foursquare, Yelp, GoWalla, Schmap, Brightkite and others.
I’ve seen many of my contacts falling off in use and I’m also questioning myself as to why I’m taking the effort to share my information and even crowd-source data for companies so they can build their data holdings, eventually selling off their assets to another company willing to pay huge $$ for this information.
I can check-in from the Tower bridge in London but when I do this I’d like to get some useful information in return… some history, deals near me, show me some more photos, who’s closeby, etc… and a basic need, I WANT to also share photos and video when I check-in!
To date I’ve found that sharing my location with co-workers, family and friends can have some very useful qualities. Sharing location-aware updates of my travels while at events is also relatively useful but quite frankly, as a user it’s getting pretty boring! I’ve yet to receive any useful information at all from any of the providers.. not even a coupon or any other valuable information being pushed to me. After checking-in from the Gym about 50 times in the past couple of months not a mention or one piece of feedback pushed from the gym. The problem here is that businesses simply aren’t taking advantage of this and in all honesty the majority of businesses never will, unless they happen to be managed by a techno geek that’s savvy enough and willing enough to do something with this information. There’s a few services that build-on your location, enabling users to add value-added information like journal entries, photos, and more… these include EverLater (think travel journal), Flook (photo sharing and cards)… I like this idea, and perhaps the concept of creating micro goups where groups of people attending conferences can create a groups and then share media and information with each other. Waze is doing a great job leveraging foursquare and social check-in by bundling it within their mobile navigation service.. this makes sense and is a great example of where the sum is greater than the parts… this is indeed the future. Foursquare is cool, but ideally its just a small part of what can be included in other apps and services.. that’s when this stuff gets more exciting!
For now I read about all these great offers to users, check-in and get free stuff yadayada… but so far it isn’t happening – and I live in a part of the country that is quite technology and Geo savvy! Yelp is the new kid on the block offering social check-in and likely have the best offering as they are rich with reviews and user generated feedback. Ideally Yelp and others need to partner up with other companies like WHERE (uLocate), and Yowza!! who offer mobile coupons in order to increase the offering to the users. Heck, most of the data collectors don’t even offer account holders access to a GeoRSS feed so that I can actually do something useful with the recorded check-ins (in their defense, Brightkite does provide account holders with GeoRSS and much more). So for now, users will have to be content with becoming mayor of their favorite hang-outs or be thrilled with getting a new passport stamp… great for newbies but for existing users there’s a common theme emerging… YAWN!