Yelp Crowns Kings One Check-in at a Time

By Amy Slife It can certainly be said that other social networks have seen Gowalla and the quite popular foursquare stumble upon something hot and worthwhile with the location-based check-in feature. Many of these other social networks are in the midst of launching, or rumored to be incorporating, location check-in elements to their platforms. As you might have heard by now, there are plans to add location features to the Facebook experience, and this week Twitter launched its Twitter Places feature. Most recently however, Yelp, a service that you could say has always been location-centric, without the check-in feature, added check-ins, badges and royal titles to accompany its standard venue review format. While you can still read and leave reviews and find ratings for restaurants and venues of all sorts, Yelp iPhone app users can now also check-in to venues when they are visiting them.

Taking foursquare’s badge and title of mayor concept and blowing it up to a larger scale, Yelp’s new platform allows users to score badges based on a certain number of similar venues checked into, i.e. pizza or sushi joints, etc. As an example, you can score the Sushi Sensei badge with a check-in to six sushi restaurants. The official Yelp blog notes that this badge is just one of a variety of badges that can be unlocked, but the user has to discover how to do so. Going beyond foursquare’s mayorship concept, Yelp’s check-in platform allows users to land titles that are royal in nature. If you have the most check-ins at a location you’re crowned the Duke or Duchess. The folks at Yelp have taken their location-based check-in feature neighborhood and city-wide to allow those with the most check-ins in their neighborhood to score the title of Baron and those with the most check-ins in their city to land the title of King.

While Yelp has added some creative enhancements to the check-in style platform with the expansion of the titles you can land, the new feature has me wondering how Yelp regulars are going to take to it and if they’re going to participate. In my own personal experience with Yelp, I typically head there when I’m looking for a restaurant review. I don’t tend to leave reviews myself or spend a great deal of time using the Yelp app. The check-in element might encourage Yelp lurkers like me to sign on and participate further with this new game feature. After all, it could be pretty cool to be able to brag to your friends and the online world about being King of the city. Are you a regular Yelp user? What are your thoughts on Yelp’s addition of the check-in feature to their iPhone app and do you plan to try it out? Share your thoughts in the comments below!