Top 10 Reasons To GOwalla and Forget Foursquare


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I LOVE Gowalla!

But I wasn’t born that way. I started off using Foursquare, gobbling up all my mayorships before that platform hit critical mass.

Just as my love affair with the square hit a plateau, I was forced to sign-up with Gowalla as research for my article on LBS deals. I was skeptical and resentful that I had to spend time on yet another platform.

On top of that, Gowalla had the smallest user base (just under 500K). From a marketer’s perspective, my initial impression was, “Why bother?”

That was almost six months ago. I have been avidly using Gowalla ever since.

Questions to Consider Before You Commit

A digital marketing student asked me which check-in platform she should be using. She wanted to be sure to choose “the right one” to prevent managing multiple check-in accounts. A lively discussion ensued with most participants falling into two camps: Gowalla or Foursquare.

Each platform meets different needs. Understanding what you want to get out of the tool and the reasons you want to engage are key to determining the right tool for you. And the questions users are asking show the type of thinking marketers should be undertaking about their activity on these platforms:

1. Are you looking for only discounts, deals and promotions?
2. Which platform are your close friends using?
3. Are you interested in discovering new locations?
4. Do you want to be actively marketed to while using the application?

And if you don’t want to take my word for it, I managed to find an expert willing to back me up. Co-author of Location Based Marketing for Dummies, Schneider Mike (@SchneiderMike), provided his insights on this LBS (location-based services) debate:

LBS apps manufacture serendipity in many ways and people choose LBS for many reasons. Among them: social utility (keeping up with where people are), deals, loyalty programs, and discovery.

Gowalla promotes discovery through categorized highlights and pictures. It’s beautifully designed to be your virtual passport and is much more open than Foursquare, giving you more potential to meet people and see who has been where. It also has an iPad app that takes advantage of the device’s features. – Schneider Mike

Without further ado… My Top 10

All right. So I’ve covered my ass by giving the “each tool meets different needs” speech – now to the good stuff. Here are the reasons why Gowalla GOES BIG and Foursquare needs to GO HOME!

1. Josh Williams, Gowalla CEO

Gowalla has a young CEO from Austin who claims there’s more to our lives than “gamification.” Check out this interview with the Guardian’s Jemima Kiss for a closer look at this Austin hipster.

2. Update other services with one Gowalla check-in

Facebook Places, FOURSQUARE, Twitter and even Tumblr. This was the feature that converted me. I was spending WAY too much time checking in on multiple platforms. Using Gowalla allows me to keep my Foursquare mayorships, tweet my location and feed my Facebook friends all with one check-in. AWESOME!

3. View friend activity on other services

Got friends spread out across multiple platforms? Gowalla allows you to view your friends check-ins on Foursquare and Facebook Places without leaving the app.

4. You’re not a fan of direct marketing

Unlike Foursquare, Gowalla doesn’t pimp itself out to every business wanting to cash-in on your check-in. They don’t clutter up the interface with coupons, specials, etc. Instead, they opt to work with brands to offer rewards to loyal customers in new ways.

5. Newly created iPad app

Foursquare doesn’t have one yet. As Schnieder Mike outlines in his recent post, the app is beautifully designed and features fun tips from around the world. You can browse through user-generated lists of themed locations like the best coffee shops in Seattle or the “must-stop” venues in North Beach.

6. Your Gowalla passport

Just like a real passport, your virtual passport documents all the cool places you’ve been and badges you have earned. It’s a one-stop shop for those trip highlights that you hope to never forget.

Gowalla awards users “pins” that reflect meeting a specific benchmark. For example, I was just awarded the “Sweat It Out” pin for checking-in at my gym five times. How’s that for extra motivation?

7. Beautiful interface

It’s no surprise that Gowalla CEO Josh Williams has a design background. The Gowalla team has created a mobile app interface that’s as delightful to look at as the places you are documenting.

8. Custom stamps

Part of what makes the interface so visually interesting are the custom stamps for locations. Offered in batches, Gowalla sells the right for a location owner to buy a custom designed stamp.

9. Discover new places with ‘Trips

Gowalla users can browse a collection of check-in locations recommended by the likes of National Geographic, USA Today, Disney and the entire Gowalla user base.

10. Souvenirs

Gowalla will randomly award users virtual items that can be stored in a virtual backpack and dropped of at a check-in location. These souvenirs can be swapped, collected and left behind as a permanent marker for another Gowalla user to stumble upon. Some of these items are even redeemable for real-world rewards.



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