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"Checking In" to Location-Based Networks

Posted by Allen J Fuller, III at 8:07 AM on May 25, 2010:

Allen Fuller on FoursquareStarbucks recently implemented a discount for all Mayors of their shops around the US.

Facebook has confirmed it will be adding location-based features soon.

Gowalla recently offered free Nets tickets to anyone who found the digital tickets they scattered in the surrounding area. (Here's a case study by VaynerMedia.)

Foursquare (which turned one in March 2010) was rumored to have been offered $100M for acquisition by Yahoo.

Mayors, millions of dollars, weird names.  What exactly is going on here?

The last year especially has seen the growth and proliferation of location-based social networks and social games.

As Anne Clelland has posted in the past, her formula for a killer app is:

Game Mechanics + Social Networking + GIS + Business Data
+ Algorithm, Formula and/or Idea + Mobile = Killer App

Anne Clelland on Foursquare Location-based apps are killer. 

In Foursquare I can compete with my friends to get the most badges and to become (and stay) Mayor of my favorite shops.  I can leave my mark by reviewing a business in Yelp or leaving a tip for others about my favorite item.  Gowalla lets me collect items left by other members and leave them at new locations, and add photos of the decor and food.  Plus, I never know when I will unlock a mayorship special or find an item that gets me a free ticket to a basketball game or a free ride from Chevy to SXSW.

And these are the benefits to the users.  Each system is offering real-time location-based promotions and advertising for businesses.  Foursquare also recently launched a whole suite of analytic tools to let businesses glean valuable data from those members that check in to help plan specials and marketing campaigns. No wonder the rumored offer from Yahoo for Foursquare was so high and Facebook is trying to move into the space. 

This new way to interact with friends in the digital and real world is not without its concerns. PleaseRobMe.comis a caution to be careful how much information we post online and where we let our check-ins be posted. At the end of the day, however, it is an exciting new way to explore a new town or your hometown.

Hey, Jeremy Hart, I am coming after your mayorships! Watch out!

***

Allen Fuller is a freelance writer, photographer and aspiring entrepreneur.  He blogs at AllenJFuller.com and you can find him @AllenJFuller.

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