The social media market is hot. From Facebook® and MySpace™ to Twitter™ and LinkedIn®, many of us are locked-in to one (or more) of these social media websites.
The latest trend, however, is location-based social media applications. As more and more people have smartphones, location-based social networking allows a person to share their location, usually through GPS, to add comments about a restaurant, to let friends know where they are, and to figure out where their friends are.
I have viewed these types of applications as best for the twenty-year-old-I-still-have-a-life crowd. This clearly does not include me, a woman in my (ahem) thirties, with a baby in tow. Most of these applications would be perfect for clubbing, bar-hopping or the hung-over-morning-after coffee outings.
I don’t think my friends want to know that my location is at home for nap time. Just sayin’.
So while there are about 10 or so applications targeting the the jet set, the hip set, the city set, the Blackberry® set, the iPhone set, and the European set, there are not many for the Mom-set (or Dad-set).
However, I stumbled across Foursquare™. It is a location-based application, but its theme is collecting points, prize “badges,” and eventually, coupons, for going about your everyday business! So in essence, you can be rewarded for those Mommy and Daddy errands! You know, outside of the “I am a parent so that is my reward” mentality. Swweettt!
I liked the concept so I downloaded the application for my iPhone for free and Foursquare has applications for Blackberry, Android, Palm and other devices too. Then I put the car seat in the car and headed out the door for a marathon of dreaded errands. This is where the quote from Will Farrell in Old School comes to mind…
“Well, um, actually a pretty nice little Saturday, we’re going to go to Home Depot. Yeah, buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have enough time.”
So this is how it worked: Each time I pulled into a store parking lot, I opened the application. My iPhone “knew” where I was, so a list of relevant stores, in the immediate area, came up on the screen. It was really accurate, though my local ToysRUs® was not on the list, but you are able to add stores along the way if they haven’t already been added by another user. Then I “checked-in”, which basically let’s the application know that I have arrived. This is the important part so you can get points and badges. I also was given the option of sending a tweet to my followers to let them know where I was and if I had any additional comments about the venue. I figure that will be an option I will use few and far between, because frankly, I am sure not many people give a crap that I am picking up dry cleaning. But I could see some venues to which I may want to give a shout-out, so it is a nice option. Although linking Foursquare to Facebook or to Twitter is just voluntary.
When I signed in to my first store, I got a newbie badge. It reminded me of my ‘back-in-the-day’ Girl Scout badges. There are hundreds of Foursquare badges from the Barsista badge (great for Starbucks® groupies) to an Explorer badge (checking into more than 25 places in a month). I personally think it is kinda cool because frankly no one else in my family is going to give me a gold star for picking up groceries. By getting a badge, you feel like someone gives a crap that you spent your whole afternoon shlepping from store to store.
Another fabulous benefit was when I signed into Sports Authority®, I was notified I qualified for a 10% off coupon. I also noticed that I had an offer for $1 off a Frappaccino at a Starbucks® in the same shopping complex. (Guess where I headed after Sports Authority…) I think over time, the points give you access to other benefits and you get special status as a Mayor, which means you are super cool. Also seems to command some respect too, which is sorely lacking in other areas of my life. Thus, I will gladly accept a title of Mayor at my local Mobil gas station.
It does not take much time to pull up the application and check-in, so all in all, it is a cute application that makes errands feel less mundane. With a few retailer incentives thrown in, a special badge, and a title or two, it makes my less than exciting Mom life seem a little more hip.