Over last couple of months I’ve been using location-aware social networks like Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook places. The question is why, why would you want people to know where you are all the time. The answer is that I don’t. I use these services, but am very careful not to share my location at all times with just anyone, and I am also very careful to add only friends that I know as friends to these services. Now there are a few different types of these applications, but the most popular at this point is a check-in style. When you visit a location you pull up the app on your phone and select your location and “check-in”. If it doesn’t exist you can create the location.
The largest of course is Facebook Places, back in August of 2010 Facebook announced Facebook places, a way for you to share your location on Facebook with your followers from your smart phone. Facebook allows businesses the ability to offer deals, and promotions based on whether or not you’ve checked-in at a specific location. The thing is that most times you don’t know whether or not there is a promotion until you’ve checked-in.
The second largest is Foursquare, which was the first app to really get into the location sharing game. This app focuses on not only sharing your location across other popular social networks (twitter, Facebook, etc.) once you’ve checked-in, but also makes your everyday life a game – you can earn points and badges to compete against your friends. They too offer businesses the ability to offer specials.
These two screenshots that I took on my phone one day, I was going to check-in to OfficeMax and while I did I noticed that the Office Depot had a special that it would apply to what we were shopping for so we left and purchased our items there.
Gowalla is not nearly as popular as the others, but I use it because it allows me to check-in with both Facebook and Foursquare. But some have said its Foursquare’s hipster younger brother.
So why do I want to share my location, one it promotes the businesses that use. Two those same businesses use incentives to get more of my business. Three its fun – I love checking in to places with my friends and competing against them and seeing all the places where I’ve been. If you haven’t yet, you should try it.