Location-based social networking draws upon the power of GPS to enable users to share their location through their portable devices. Typically, communications stem from a mobile email or text message. Quite frequently, people use these tools to enhance their social lives, as they can not only read about new places to go but also track where their friends are at any given time. Many people use the functionality of location-based social media to spontaneously get together with friends and business colleagues.
The fast growth of webphone users has expedited the growth of location-based social media. People who have purchased these gadgets want to take full advantage of mobile phone apps that will assist them with their day-to-day life. People with web phones, of course, want information when they are in an unfamiliar location. Whether they seek the find the nearest coffee shop to a given location, or reviews of a restaurant, details “on the go” are always quite valuable. There is a clear power and allure to relevant, real-time information.
Another reason people have gravitated to these location-based social media tools is that they enable them to combine the real and virtual worlds. For example, Foursquare enables people to compete in a competition to win “badges” at a favorite club or restaurant. When you check into a location multiple times you can earn a badge or other recognition. Certain users can also earn the title of mayor. Many have gravitated to this network because they enjoy the added benefit of playing this game that is unique to Foursquare. Instead of posting something about what they did last night, they now have the opportunity to post about what they are doing right now – and see what others are doing in the same location.
Foursquare also allows users to add “tips” to various locations including recommendations or even random thoughts. When you are near a Foursquare location, you can read other people’s tips. This advice allows people to find new establishments that match their interests. Of the current, different location-based social media tools; Foursquare is among the most popular. In fact, according to an Inc. magazine article published July 8, 2010, Foursquare is adding 15,000 new users every day.
However, Foursquare is not without its competition, take Whrrl, for example. Whrrl is similar to Foursquare in that it offers reviews of various businesses including restaurants, stores, coffee shops, etc. Whrrl users can check out these reviews via their web phones. This content is very similar to what is typically seen on Yelp, except all of the relevant details are displayed on Google maps for easy navigation. Thus, Whrrl allows users to get details about different businesses simply by clicking on them.
Whrrl differentiates itself from Foursquare, however, by allowing users to add photos as well as text with notes. This functionality gives the user the ability to tell stories. Whrrl also offers users a degree of control over their privacy, as Whrrl lets users differentiate between friends and “trusted” friends. Another interesting aspect about Whrrl is that you earn points and rewards when other people save and complete your recommendations.