The Importance of Checking In

By Dan Bergeron Social media has become more than tacky profile photos and ‘over-sharing’ status updates.  While geo-location is by no means brand new, it is finally catching on among everyday consumers and businesses.   While some consider sharing your whereabouts to be unnecessary, others see value in social geo-location.  The reality is, there is a great deal of value in using geo-location from both the consumer and business perspective.  Tools such as Foursquare, Gowalla, Facebook Places, Scvngr, etc, are becoming more prominent as a method for consumers and businesses to connect and share with one another.

When I first created a Foursquare account way back in 2009, I was very intrigued by the idea but rarely checked into places mainly because I would forget.  One day I was chatting with my good friend Mike (@mikefraietta), who had been using both Foursquare and Gowalla for quite some time already.  Mike is a worldly traveler and has been to many different cities all over the world.  Mike described his checking in experience to me as a virtual tour guide.  Imagine yourself walking through the downtown area of a new city, flourishing with restaurants, coffee shops and pubs.  So many choices but you don’t have time to stop in and look at the menu of every single place.  Now would be the perfect opportunity to dust off that Blackberry or Iphone and look for Tips Nearby.  Foursquare allows users to leave tips at venues they check into, so that other users who have not been there know what’s good, what isn’t good, and perhaps a secret about the menu or venue itself.

If you are a business owner that has some type of retail storefront, it is absolutely pertinent for you to get your business on Foursquare/Gowalla /Yelp.  Consumers are sharing their experiences with others more and more.  Consumers are looking for tips or reviews about new places they go to, so they expect others to share their experience or tips and in return they will do the same for others.

There are many small locally owned businesses that are doing an excellent job of engaging in geo-location networks.  I’ve been to small coffee shops that offer a free daily cup of coffee to the mayor.  I’ve also seen delis reward the mayor with half off sandwiches.  These are great incentives for regulars and to get some new faces in the door.  It will also bring repeat customers, as they keeping coming back to check in to compete to be the Mayor.  Tee & Cakes, a delicious boutique cupcake shop in Boulder, Colorado held a cupcake eating contest between the 2 people who were competing back and forth as the Mayor.

Recently was the 2nd Annual Foursquare Day (4/16).  Millions of users gathered in meetups in large cities around the country.  The idea behind Foursquare and other geo-location apps is not solely to share your whereabouts; rather to be used as beneficial social to share information with other consumers about a particular business venue or place and to provide incentives to consumers.  So always remember the importance of checking in, who knows, maybe you’ll get a free coffee out of it.

Share your thoughts below!