Check it! Location based games are getting easier and more useful

Unless you have been hidden under a rock for the last twelve months you must have heard about Foursquare which has been the latest geo-location craze to hit social media in 2010. Basically the premise is you have to travel around checking Chris Norton's Foursquarein to locations near you securing points for travelling around. If you “check-in” to one location more than someone else you become the Mayor of that location and that generally means very little. In the US, and a small splattering of companies in the UK, this can entitle you to a few treats such as a coffee or pizza in your local Starbucks or Pizza Hut respectively. However, many of the big hitters in the world of social media are still remain unconvinced by the network’s usefulness and find it a tad tiresome.

In fact, recently I heard someone say they found the location check-ins, which now feature on Twitter and Facebook, so tiring that they were unfollowing people who did it all the time.

I have been playing with it a while now and can see the marketing potential but, although it is the most popular location based game, it’s still some way off reaching the tipping point as its mostly used by early adopters and the geeks (sorry guys). At the last count it had half a million users compared with Facebook’s 300 million – see what I mean. So we do need to be realistic as to how many people are actually using it. A friend of mine recently attended the Glastonbury festival and checked his Foursquare and found that he was the only person from the whole of his network in attendance.

FourwhereHowever, that said as it has a fun new API which quite a few developers have been having a play around creating little applications to make Foursquare more useful. One example is Fourwhere which is a fun little app that mashes up checkins and local comments from Foursquare, Yelp and Gowalla.

It makes it easier to visualize comments/tips left by users. So if you were looking for a place to meet with a  client or go out for a bite to eat, you can use it to find local cafes and restaurants nearby and use the reviews to make an informed decision.

One of the most interesting new apps that have been created is Future Checkin which has just been created by some clever people. It works alongside Foursquare and allows you to choose your favourite venues. The clever bit is you can then set it to automatically check-in when you arrive at one of those selected venues. I have to admit I find this a bit too much and am slightly concerned about privacy issues, it takes me back to the amusing site (Pleaserobme) as it completely removes the human touch but it does make the checking in process easier. Here is a video to explain how the app works.

So location based social media games are useful because you can get local tips and reviews direct to your mobile and the more people that use them the more relevant and insightful the tips are likely to be. Marketers will no doubt soon be able to run ‘promoted tips’ in a similar vein to the promoted tweets option in Twitter. Personally I am not sure if this automatic checking in just turns the whole thing into a bit of a numbers game with the net result being people not playing anymore and moving onto the next latest craze.

Do you think automatically checking in is a good thing or is it the same as auto following on Twitter?

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3 comments on “Check it! Location based games are getting easier and more useful
  1. I’m not sure I like this idea. I thought the purpose of Four Square (eventually anyway) was so you can find out if your friends have been there, see reviews, get more, real-time information etc. Surely if you’re checking in whilst your iphone is in your bag, you lose that element and it purely becomes a numbers game – a race to be mayor! Interesting all the same. Nice post! 🙂

  2. Like you I have been testing out Foursquare and can see the marketing potential – partiticularly for leisure, hospitality and tourism sectors – but agree that there is a long way to go. It is quite addictive but it is really a numbers game at the moment. Rather reminds me of being a girl guide and seeing who could collect the most badges! Why else would people be checking into their homes on a daily basis? On a more sinister note there was an interesting article in The Guardian the other week about the potential dangers of stalkers using location based games http://bit.ly/9gsWeB

  3. Thanks for your comments guys.

    I think the interesting battle now will be Foursquare and Facebook location which launches today it will be interesting to see whether Facebook works with it or against it.

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