Social check-in apps – what’s out there

There are a variety of specialist apps now available that allow users to ‘check-in’ to what they are doing and where. This trend has moved beyond simply checking into a location and can now be combined with a variety of other activities, each with varying benefits and social implications.

1) Location check-in


Let people know where you are by ‘checking-in’ to your location. This can be anywhere – a shop, pub, park, station, even your home.  The biggest apps here are Facebook Places, Foursquare and Gowalla.

Why do it?

Most of the smaller apps use gamification techniques combined with the user’s social network to encourage usage. Leaderboards, badges and points all contribute to this. There’s a social benefit to telling your friends where you are – if they are nearby, it could be an otherwise missed chance to meet up. Driven by the entry of Facebook Places to the market, it’s increasingly about gaining real rewards and offers from local retailers who benefit from incentivised loyalty.

Examples:

Foursquare

Gowalla

Facebook Places

Brightkite

Loopt

MyTown

2) Entertainment check-in


 ‘Check-in’ to what you’re watching or doing – TV Shows, films, books, music, games – you can tell your friends exactly what you’re up to. New apps like IntoNow (US only) are able to use sound recognition to automatically check-in to what you’re watching.

Why do it?

The benefits of this are limited at the moment to the not-so-rewarding act of collecting badges and simply recording what you do. In the US, some TV networks and brands are offering rewards and offers to users who regularly check-in to their shows and the BBC is beginning to enter this space. The benefits could rocket with increased use of IPTV where scheduled TV becomes less important and the social element of watching something at the same time as your friends can be recreated.

Examples:

GetGlue

IntoNow

Miso

Combos…

3) Location + food


Food lovers everywhere can upload a picture of what they’re eating and assign it to a place.

Why do it?

It brings the love of sharing food to your social network and beyond and conversely, it can be used to choose food from a menu to see what you’ll get before ordering. There could be some interesting uses of this for food outlets in the future.

Example:

Foodspotting

4) Location + sights


Record the small sights you see everyday that are worth sharing and tag them to a location.

Why do it?

On it’s own, there seems to be little reason other than to share the small moments you encounter with the world and contribute to a collection of visual points of interest. However, combining with an event such as London’s Open House Weekend proved to be remarkably successful for Flook. This could be the key to future benefits of this type of app.

Example:

Flook

5) Location + entertainment

Tag what you’re doing and where with one check-in thanks to a partnership between Foursquare and GetGlue. This means that you could check into live music, live sports and cinema viewings in one go.

Why do it?

For the same reasons as above – plus it makes it a much simpler process for those who check-in to both location and entertainment apps.

Example:

Foursquare + GetGlue

6) Location + sports


Track and record your sports activities by checking in at the start and end of an activity.  Walking, running and cycling activities can be automatically plotted on a map and shared with your friends on social networks. The apps and associated websites also provide breakdowns of times, speeds and altitudes.

Why do it?

The benefits are much clearer than for other apps. They provide an accurate record of activity and give visibility of your progress, offering motivation. Sharing with friends can also offer motivation. For brands, it offers an extended service offer – Nike are leading in this area.

Examples:

RunKeeper

NikePlus

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