The Case for Checking in

Lately I’ve been having frequent conversations with “normal” people about check-in services like Gowalla and Foursquare (GeoSocial for short) and it seems like many have the same question,

I don’t get the whole check-in thing, why do you use it?

Normally its asked by someone that has seen friends check-in and is slightly interested but hasn’t really discovered a reason they should use it. My 2 part answer:

Geosocial invites my online community to influence my offline world.

Say you love the “Baked Salmon Sushi” at a particular restaurant and you leave that recommendation as a tip or highlight. If we’re friends on the service then when I visit I see your suggestion. I can name hundreds of examples but they all have the common thread of GeoSocial info improving my experience. I call it insider trading in the real world.

Check-ins create conversation.

I checked in at a popular restaurant today and mentioned it was my first visit, withing minutes my Twitter friends sent 5 replies suggesting I try the yeast roll.  Big deal right? Actually it is.

These seeming mundane yet personal shares really connects us with a community. Just this past week my friend @willie discovered where I got engaged through a Gowalla highlight. I know that because he tweeted me.

@tsudo Checked into the Omni is Austin, TX and saw you proposed here. Small world.Tue Mar 22 20:31:05 via Echofon

I’ve learned so much about my friends and my world through these services and that’s why I use them.

Still not convinced? Check out Discovering the value in GeoSocial.

A final word – Moderation is key, don’t push every check in to every social network.

PS: If you’re wondering, yes I use both. I enjoy Foursquare for the tips & love the experience and trips in Gowalla. They both have their strengths. If you decide to join you can find me on Gowalla and Foursquare.

4 responses to “The Case for Checking in”

  1. Anonymous says:

    I can see how this might be neat but my concern is folks I don’t know, knowing where I am and knowing I’m not at home. We’ve dealt with a stalker in our family. It is TERRIFYING. I would never want to see anyone else go through that. I just wonder how safe this is, especially for women, and even more for very attractive women.

    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • Keith says:

      There absolutely is a consideration of safety especially for ladies. I’ve
      had this exact conversation several times with lady friends of mine. There
      are a couple of approaches.

      1. Many of our normal updates reveal our information already. Coffee at
      starbucks or tweets from work. So if someone is really dealing with a
      stalker situation then all of the information shared online has to come
      under review.
      2. Checkin when you leave – Several of my friends will use the service to
      find the tips or activity but won’t checkin till they are leaving the
      3. Privacy options – Both Foursquare and Gowalla offer good options for
      privacy so you can restrict who you share with. See
      and for more information about those options. Obviously
      privacy isn’t a complete answer but these services are aware of making these
      networks as open or closed as a user prefers.

      I think there are ways to get value and still protect yourself but someone
      has to know what they are comfortable with using.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and I’ll definitely check out the site.

  2. Kwkoone says:

    Nice post, I actually had these questions. How did you know 🙂

    • Keith says:

      A wild guess. (Everyone had these questions. It’s the nice thing about a
      blog – I can answer it once and just refer people here.)

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