Don’t Be a Jerk, Let Them Work: Too Many Check-Ins PSA [VIDEO]

I realized I was becoming a check-in junkie when I noticed I had 6 geo-location networks on my phone (the only thing I didn’t have was Facebook Places, and I’m sure my Facebook for Android app has it already installed).

I shot this video as a part of 12 Stars Media’s You Do Video program, on the Flip camera they provided me, with help from Meghan Barich’s @MeghanBarich help, as well as Pamela the Barista), and then was so ashamed that I actually had nearly all of the apps I named that I deleted Whrrl and Hashable, and saved myself over 10 GB of space on my phone.

I also realized that there are just too many geo-location networks out there. I frequently use Foursquare, Gowalla, and Yelp, because I like their game psychology and the chance to win badges, pins, and titles. I like how retail stores and restaurants have embraced Foursquare to offer specials for check-ins. I like how Gowalla offers special “trips,” encouraging visitors to check out different places in a city, and I appreciate Yelp’s user-generated reviews of a restaurant, which help me decided whether to eat at a place or not.

So I’m paring down to only those three, and while I may check out some other location-based apps in the future, especially any hyperlocal ones that focuses on a specific city, I don’t plan on adding any more. I may even drop one or two in the future, especially if Foursquare would ever add more user-generated reviews in the future, and not just tips.

Are There Too Many Geo-Location Networks?

A couple days ago, I shot a quick video for 12 Stars Media’s You Do Video program, spoofing all the different check-ins I could make on my phone. In the video, I checked in (pretended to; I was acting!) on 7 different geo-location networks.

The sad thing was that out of the 7 I named, I actually had 6 of them on my phone.

Now, I’m a regular Foursquare user. I’ve invested the most time and effort into it. And I’ve played with Gowalla, and I like that they create tours that users can take of different cities (I may even create my own tour for Indianapolis). But then there’s Whrrl (which Jason Falls got me to try), Hashable, Google Latitude, Yelp (I blame Thomas Ho for that one), and Facebook Places (the one geo-location network I refuse to use). I even signed up for Bizzy, but haven’t installed it.

Someone had the brilliant idea of creating a third-party app that would check in to all of your geo-location networks at once, but Foursquare and others said they wouldn’t give any points from those third-party check-in apps, so I gave up.

There are just too many damn geo-location apps to keep track of. I know there are at least a couple dozen more that I could be using. But I was so disgusted with my geo-whoring that I dropped Whrrl (sorry, Jason) and Hashable from my phone, and saved myself about 10 MB in space. I also removed Latitude from my home screen, and recommitted to not using Facebook Places. I’ll stick with Foursquare, use Yelp when I want to leave a restaurant review, and use Gowalla only on road trips.

What about you? What geo-location networks are you using? Or are you avoiding them completely? Let me hear from you.

Coupons + Geo-Location = Technology I’d Like To See

My friend, Patric Welch (aka Mr. Noobie), writes an occasional blog feature he calls Technology I’d Like to See (TILTS). I liked it so much that I steal the idea from time to time, and share the occasional TILTS idea I have, to see if I can get the parties involved to actually make it happen. Kids playing Foursquare. It's a play on the social networking service by the same name.

We’re starting to see how some geo-location services, like Geoloqi (in closed beta), will automatically perform services for you based on you just entering a specific location, like check you into a Foursquare location if you have been there for more than 10 minutes, or send you an SMS note the next time you go to a grocery store.

My point is, geo-location is becoming the hot new social networking service for consumers, and savvy marketers are already taking advantage of it. Check in at a restaurant, and you could get a discount off your dinner. Stop in at a bookstore, and you may get a notice that your favorite author has a new book coming out.

So here’s my TILTS idea:

I would like to see one of these coupon services, like Groupon or, sell on-the-spot coupons, through Foursquare, Gowalla, or any of the other geo-location services. If I check in to a restaurant that has a coupon, I want the option to buy the coupon right there, and be able to redeem it from my phone.

Currently, if I buy a coupon, I have to print it out and give it to them. And if I’m already in a restaurant, then printing out the coupon is not an option. But what if I could share a coupon with a custom ID number (or bar code or QR code) that the server can enter into the computer, and it will honor the coupon, and insure I can’t cheat and use it again? (A local coupon provider, Coupons4Indy already has one-time mobile coupons you can redeem, so I know this can be done.)

This way, sites like and can take advantage of the growing geo-location trend, marketers will have more ways to improve the ROI of their social media efforts, and the consumer benefits by finding surprise deals at their favorite restaurant.

What do you think? Can you think of a way to improve this? Or where are the flaws that you see? And if you’re from any of the coupon or geo-location services, what do you think? Is this even doable? And do you need my mailing address to send me a finder’s fee?

Can Geo-Location Services Get Too Clingy? A Neer Review

I like geo-location services. If nothing else, I like the competition of trying to wrest mayorship of a restaurant or office from a social media buddy. But I also like it for the ability to see if any of my friends are nearby, and I’ll send a quick Twitter DM for lunch or coffee.

I also like how some restaurants like Scotty’s Brewhouse or a museum like Conner Prairie will offer specials to people who check in (Scotty’s: 10% off each visit you check in, plus a special bonus to mayors; Conner Prairie: $2 off your general admission on your first check in).

To me, Foursquare has actually told me a little bit more about my friends, and gives us something to talk about when we bump into each other. (I once had someone come up and introduce themselves to me at Hubbard & Cravens because they saw I was the mayor and recognized my avatar photo.)

But the thing I’ve always been careful of is to not tell everyone every time I check in. I turned off my Twitter and Facebook notifications, and only submit a location on special occasions (i.e. checking in at the Pittsburgh Steeler’s practice facility sometime back in May or June, or checking in at an Indianapolis Colts’ preseason game against the Bengals). But otherwise, I try to leave my general networks alone. Plus I just don’t want to pester everyone with my new location anytime I move three feet to the left.

So I’m a little leery of this new private geo-location service called Neer. Okay, maybe not leery, but I rolled my eyes a little harder than necessary, and gave myself a headache. Here’s what Neer says they do.

Neer allows you to privately and automatically share your location with the people you care about. Not everywhere you go, just the places that really matter.

Neer works in the background so you don’t have to. Go ahead, leave work and leave your phone in your pocket. We’ll let your loved ones know you’re on your way!

In other words, let’s say I select “Work” and “Home” as your important places — this is called “geo-fencing” — and I choose my wife as the person I want to notify. Then, my wife will get a little message when:

  • I arrive at work in the morning.
  • I leave the office for lunch or a meeting.
  • I arrive back at the office from lunch or a meeting.
  • I leave the office to go home that night.
  • And when I get home.

I don’t know, it seems a little creepy. I mean, I love my wife, but I don’t want her to keep track of every move I make. And I don’t want to keep track of every move she makes. (10 cool points to everyone who just said “every bond you break” in their heads.)

However, to be fair, Neer probably isn’t for me. As TechCrunch said in an article,

Neer is for people who constantly have to keep track of each other and already do so with phone calls, such as husbands and wives with small children. Instead of calling every night to see if a spouse has left work yet in time to help feed the kids or put them in bed, or whether the school drop-off was successful, they can get a reassuring geo-alert.

Since this isn’t an issue for me, I don’t need the constant reassurance or helicopter spousal attention that Neer will give me.

However, I do like the idea of passively sharing my location with a few necessary people, even actively. In fact, the more I wrinkle my nose at the idea, it makes the blood rush to my brain, and I can think of a few business and personal applications where this might be useful:

  • Long haul truckers who follow a specific route over and over. They can text stops to their family or their dispatcher when they have reached a certain location, like crossing a state line or arriving at a filling station.
  • In town delivery drivers who follow a set route. Their dispatchers can keep up with them via Neer.
  • Government employees who have to visit certain locations as part of a regular route.
  • People who live in one city and work in another. A friend recently spent nearly a year working in Fort Wayne — 2 hours away — and had to call his wife every time he arrived at his apartment on Sunday night, and when he left the office to head home on Friday nights.
  • Parents who send their kids off to college with a dodgy car. Just enter “the dorm” or “campus” into Neer, and you can be sure when your kid makes it back safely.

Okay, so maybe it’s not all creepy. Just a little clingy. But in the right circumstances, and to the right people, I can see this being a valuable tool for some people.

So here’s a video explaining what you can do with it.