Ok, so this week I’ve seen a couple of articles about whether or not checking in to places on Foursquare, Facebook Places etc is dead. I presume this is down to Facebook’s (supposed) announcement that they were withdrawing their location services, which many read as them conceding to Foursquare, and Gowalla’s pivot to focus on creating guides and hotspots.
Being based in the field (not literally a field, you can’t even check in there) of location based social networking, I figured The Social Penguin would be a good place to weigh in with my thoughts.
I will confess now that I don’t really understand the point in checking in. There, I said it. The few times I’ve checked in, it’s been to seize a mayorship so I can get free burritos or because I’m somewhere cool; ‘Oh, Google’s UK headquarters? Yeah, I was just stopping by for a chat with some guys I know.’ Other than that, I fail to see the benefits of checking in – nobody needs to see me check in at the gym every other day, just like nobody needs to hear what I’m having for breakfast every day or what the weather’s like outside my window. But try telling that to some of the people I follow on Twitter…
Do I think the future of social networking is the check-in? Definitely not. I will admit that there are some apps making good use of check-in data. Sonar, for example, notes your Foursquare check-ins and sends you an email if someone who follows the same people you do are in the area. It’s easy to see the benefits of this at something like a conference, but the model is inherently flawed because of how many people use Twitter to follow celebrities, publications etc – just because someone who reads Vice and watches Glee is on the same street as me doesn’t mean we’re going to have anything else in common.
So what is the future of location? Well, here comes the plug. I work at Floxx Media Group, who are set to release an app called Spottd. The most important realisation we had when building Spottd was that (with a few rare exceptions) places aren’t interesting; what’s happening there is what matters. While my Twitter followers probably don’t care that I’m at Chilango’s, they probably would care if there was a cool new piece of street art round the corner, or the restaurant was giving away free burritos. We hope to establish Spottd as a real-time social satnav – you can see things going on around certain locations, posted by people you may not know, and vote them up or down.
If you’re not a fan of product placement, you have my apologies (but if you are, you can follow our progress @SpottdDog on Twitter). However, with or without the mention of the product I’ve been working on, everything I have written still represents how I feel about the future of location based social networking.
And now, this is the part of the (proverbial) evening where I throw things over to you guys – do you check in to places, and do you ‘get it’ or is just a habit you’ve managed to get into? Would you be sceptical about a service like Spottd that is, in many ways, a real life version of Reddit or Digg?