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By Margaret Yekulis • @myekulis
How many of you check in as soon as you step foot into a restaurant? A shop? You may have heard the idea before, or you may have no idea what I’m talking about. Most people who have heard of the term “Checking In" in regards to social media use check-in services on a regular basis. Those that haven’t, well, you’re about to find out! Allow me to give you the rundown of 2010’s breakout social media trend that is only growing even more in 2011.
So What Is Checking-In Anyhow?
Checking in refers to the idea of checking in through an application on your phone when you’re out at a bar, restaurant, event or shop (and more!). There are several services that have come about over the past couple of years in order to make being out and about more social than just tweeting “I’m at a restaurant eating pizza." What’s so exciting about that? With check in services, you let friends and family know the places you’ve been, can leave tips about what you liked (or didn’t like) about it and take photos to share your experience.
That’s really the whole idea behind checking in. Not to be anti-social when you’re out at dinner or to share every mundane detail of your life, but rather to share the experience. Think of it as a review site on the go. Want to try a new place? Don’t know where to go? The check-in apps can easily find what locations are nearby and give you suggestions of places you may want to try. You can decide whether or not to go based on tips left by other patrons.
Let’s face it, we’re all on Facebook these days (ok, I know one person that isn’t, but I’m not giving up hope!). But with the rising popularity of Foursquare and Gowalla in 2009 and 2010, Facebook decided they needed to toss their hat in the ring and quickly came up with Facebook Places. Now, I have to admit, I’m not much of a user of Facebook Places, with the exception of one time with Foursquare couldn’t find where I was. But Facebook Places is a good location service to start with if you just want to tell all of your friends where you are. If you have the Facebook app on your phone, then you already have Facebook Places. Just pull it up the next time you’re out, find where you are, and done! You’ve checked in and shared it on Facebook, posting it on your wall for all of your friends to see. This still helps to make your check-in social, as people can then comment on your check-in, give feedback and start a conversation.
But that’s boring! Why just check in when you can leave tips, take photos and (the best part) compete with your friends. That’s right, Foursquare allows you to compete on many levels with your friends. The competing aspect really starts with your mayorship. Yes, on Foursquare, you can become the mayor of a place (without even having to campaign!). If you’ve checked into a place the most, congrats! You’ve become the mayor of your favorite restaurant or store, and may even get something in return from your favorite location. This is a great benefit for restaurants and bars, as it attracts people in for that free cocktail for checking in or the free latte for becoming the mayor.
With the upgrades that Foursquare has recently rolled out, the competition has gotten even better. Now when you check into a place, you’ll see how many points you’ve racked up for that day or that week in comparison
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