Checking-In (part 2): So Many Sites, So Little Time

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One of the things I learned quickly while trying to research geolocation and check-in applications is that there are way too many of them to keep track of easily. I am by nature an experiential learner and learn best by actually doing things and trying out new technologies for myself. I downloaded the first couple of applications I found out about- CauseWorld and Foursquare- and enjoyed checking-in at various locations. After adding GetGlue and ShopKick and completely depleting the storage space and battery power of my phone trying to download Foodspotting, Gowalla, and others, I realized there was no way anyone could have a presence on all of these applications, So, I came up with a plan. (For me, at least.) There is really only the need to have 2-3 applications to effectively participate in the check-in trend that is taking place. Here is what I suggest as a way to limit the applications you use.

1. Choose one basic application for geolocation

Choices in this category would be applications such as Foursquare, Gowalla or BrightKite. They will allow you to check-in to your location and learn more about your town, while maybe even getting some sweet deals from local businesses.

My Choice: Foursquare

Reasons: It is simple to use and actually is being used by several businesses in Knoxville to offer deals. I like being able to get a free drink at Hard Knox Pizza (every check-in), a free milkshake at Chick-fil-a (with 3 check-ins) or 20% off at Sweet CeCe’s (for the Mayor). Foursquare also recently unveiled new business analytics pages for it’s service.

2. Choose one gaming application

Choices in this category could include Geocaching, SCVNGR, Tourality, and others

My Choice: SCVNGR

Reasons: Although I haven’t been able to use it yet, I became interested in SCVNGR because it is used by Buffalo Wild Wings here in Knoxville. I am a competitive person by nature and love the idea of getting to complete challenges while waiting for my food.

3. Pick a wild card

Everyone has different tastes, preferences, etc. This applies to social media just as it would any other aspect of your life. For your optional third application, I strongly suggest you choose an application that appeals to your personal interests and hobbies. If you are crazy about food, you might try Foodspotting. Often accused of being a shopaholic? Then you should try out ShopKick for great deals delivered to you as you walk in the door of you favorite stores. There are many other applications out there, and I’m sure you can find one you will love.

My Choice: GetGlue

Reasons: I am a total entertainment addict. I love interacting with other fans about books, movies, music, and celebrities. I also enjoy earning new badges for check-in at box office openings and events such as the Oscars.

Overall, I think one of the most important things is to remember to post responsibly to any of these sites you choose to use. I would strongly suggest that you do not share your personal information (i.e. phone number, date of birth, etc.) with these applications because we know that EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE can see what you are posting. If you can narrow down your applications and post responsible, you will have a long happy relationship with checking-in. To find our more about the wide array of applications and their uses in the professional world check out the short video below.

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ShopKick combines Geolocation, Advertising & Social Good

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As you may know, I have a very string interest in supporting social causes. One way in which I like to do this is through the social cause geolocation application Causeworld. I was horribly saddened last week to log in and find out that the application is being fazed out. Never fear, however, because the owners of Causeworld have created what they believe will be a better more efficient application known as ShopKick. While your credits (i.e. Karma) don’t transfer over, you still have the chance to donate any final karma points you have to one your favorite causes. So, donate your final karmas and switch out the old app for the new ShopKick app, which is available for Android and many other platforms. You can see how the new application works in the video below.

Still skeptical about whether these apps are actually beneficial? Then, you should read the inspirational story of how funds raised by ShopKick/Causeworld helped out the American Humane Society to save dogs in a town only an hour from where I was raised in Georgia. Or, see the adorable students who got new laptops with funds from Causeworld karmas donated by users like me (and maybe you too!). I can’t explain to you the technicalities of how it works, but your Causeworld check-ins definetely helped out a great many people!

ShopKick also has the potential to beneficially affect people through check-ins, credits and donations. There’s a bit of a twist to this application though that wasn’t a primary component of Causeworld. ShopKick is an early attempt to use geolocation apps as on on-location marketing and advertising tool. The app is designed to recognize when you are near stores or when you enter shopping locations and deliver personalized deals and coupons for that store. Some of the big names who are collaborating with the application are Best Buy and Target.

This approach seems to be working according to a Mashable report that the six month old application has seen over 100 million check-ins. A story in Business Insider stated that the new application has 750,000 users, 10% of who check in every day! Mashable ranked ShopKick as one of the top ten apps to watch for 2011. (You may also note that another of my favorites, GetGlue, was even higher up the list at number 3!) The application also made Mashable’s list of 5 check-in apps to check-out. ShopKick seems to be on the forefront of a second generation of check-in applications which I believe will far outshine and outperform the first generation geolocation applications! I look forward to trying out ShopKick myself and to seeing how others adopt this new technology!

Social Media for Social Good

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     At this year’s Winter X Games, veiwers will be able to check-in to their Foursquare accounts and help raise money for breast cancer through the Boarding for Breast Cancer campaign. For each person who checks in from the games, Sports Authority has agreed to donate $1 (up to a total of $1000 per day). The story was on Mashable today.

While this is a new campaign for Sports Authority, Foursquare and the Winter X Games, it isn’t the first campaign of it’s kind. As I mentioned last week, geolocation app CauseWorld is based on a giving model. For each check-in, user earn “karma” points. Users can then use these karma points to support causes of their choice. A comment on the story (above) by Caitlin Fader brought this to the attention of other reading the article. While I am excited that Foursquare is being used to help this great cause, there are many other ways we can support charities and causes via social media.

My SocialVibe widget for charity:water raises money for building deep wells in countries clean, fresh water isn’t easily accesible. SocialVibe also allows users to choose from many other charities/causes to support. I personally chose charity:water because it is one of the causes I actively promote. If you are interested in other causes, such as saving endangered species, there is a cause widget for you too! In a 2009 list of  “10 Ways to Support Charity on Social Media”, widgets were mentioned as number six and the author even provided information on where you can build your own custom widgets (if you’re more tech savvy than I am! lol!).

SixDegrees.org is another useful site for social media do-good-ers. It allows you to buy “good cards” to use for SixDegrees widgets, create your own widgets complete with your own videos, make donations or find ways to volunteer. Kevin Bacon, of Footloose fame, did a Pepsi Refresh Grant video describing SixDegrees.com.

A recent article in Social Media Today,  describes 5 top ways that charities will be involved with social media. No shock to Twitter addicts that Twibbons and Tweet-a-thons made the list. Media attention and buzz surrounding charity and social media must have been at a high point in late 2008 through 2009, as there are several articles available online regarding the subject–like this one in The New York Observer .

In more recent cases, social media has served as a platform for allowing fan groups and other comon interest groups to band together and create their own social good campaigns. Two of my favorite charity groups were recently started based on a multitude of Twitter conversations between fans and the celebrity responsible for the initial funding.

  • Misha Collins (actor on Supernatural) is the leader of a charity called Random Acts, which is the result of fan-support after he jokingly tweeted that his fans should apply for government stmulus funds and then use them for a good cause.  
  • Ian Somerhalder of  The Vampire Diaries,  recently started his own charity foundation, The IS Foundation, primarily because of the immense support of his fans in response to the idea of starting a charity as his Birthday Project.

Another of my favorite charity causes, Charity:Water, allows celebrities to “donate” thier birthdays to the organization. Instead of sending money or gifts to the celebrity, devoted fans donate money to charity:water. The suggested donation amount is the same numbers as the celebrities age. For instance, if it’s your 12th birthday fans should donate $12 (or $1.20 if they’re a broke college student). Two celebrities who have recently donated their birthdays are Allysa Milano & Adam Lambert. Also, Jayden Smith recently gave Ellen a charity:water well for her birthday on the Ellen show.

As you can see, there are lots of ways to use your social media involvement for social good. Will you choose to check-in for charity, add a Twibbon to your profile pic, or add a cause widget to your blog? Either way, there are many cool ways to make a big difference through a small donation and/or time commitment!

Is Foursquare worth the share?

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Several months ago, while still at the University of Georgia, I was taking a class on Advertising and Society. One of the things that the class liked to talk about while we were waiting on the teacher to set up her powerpoint was social media. The majority of the students in the class were upperclassmen who were much more tech savvy than I am.

They all seemed to be fascinated with what they thought would be the Next Big Thing in social media – Foursquare. In an attempt to better figure out what they were talking about, I dutifully created my own account on the Foursquare website. If found that, since I didn’t have a Smartphone, the only time I could really update the site was from school or at home. This discouraged any dreams I had of being the Mayor of the local Kroger. 🙂 In general, it didn’t seem very useful and I just didn’t get it.

In May, I upgraded to an Android powered Smartphone and have become quickly addicted to the many free apps available. My Foursquare app, however, still isn’t my go-to app for geolocation tagging. If I only have a few minutes to log in, I prefer to log in to CauseWorld – an app that allows my check-ins to raise “karmas” that lead to donations to a good cause of my choice.

In addition, very few of my friends use Foursquare (although a few do make check-ins on Facebook). This leads me back to my original question– Is Foursquare really worth taking the time to share my location?

While Foursquare recently surpassed 3 million users, I can’t help but wonder how many of these users are like myself and after months of Foursquare membership have only checked in at a few locations.

If there are any addicted Foursquare users out there, we would love to hear your input!

Checking Out now 🙂

Beka