I’ll be the first to admit that I thought the entire concept behind Foursquare was stupid when I first heard about it. In fact, I remember ranting to a friend of mine that it was creepy to tell people what you were doing and where you were going at every moment of the day, not to mention dangerous, since it means that stalkers can find you and thieves know when you’re not at home.
Maybe those things are still true, at least in some cases, but if you’re smart about it, location-based social media services can help you as a blogger. I think that over the next several months, we’ll continue to see an increase in the options available, as well as the number of users, and I have to admit…the mayorships and badges and such are growing on me. Yes, I am a huge dork and constantly try to overthrow my roommate as mayor of Red Robin.
I’m by no means an expert on location-based services, so I’ll give you the tips I’ve come across with my personal use, and hopefully you all can chime in as well with even more tips on how bloggers can use this kind of new media!
I’m a fan of the fact that you can link location apps directly to Facebook and Twitter, allowing you to spread the word about what you’re doing, even if people don’t use these services themselves. In fact, because of my paranoia about the creep factor, I don’t actually accept friend requests and the like on Foursquare itself. Maybe that will change in the future, but right now, I like being about to check in privately to earn discounts and free stuff, but publicize it to my Twitter account when and how I want. When you go places that make sense to your brand, it helps build that image on other social media sites. For example, if you’re a parenting blogger, it makes sense to check in when you’re shopping at Gymboree and if you’re a food blogger, it makes sense to check in when you’re out to eat or grocery shopping. Incorporating pictures is even better if you’re able to do so!
Like I said, sometimes, I’ll check in privately, without publicizing to Twitter, because I know that a location offers free stuff to those who check in or become mayors. Although I’m generally a lover of getting crap for free (fact.), this can also help your blog if you’re looking for products to review but don’t have tons of cash on hand to make purchases or the notoriety to get noticed by the big brands yet. For example, a few months ago, Gap was offering free jeans to the first several thousand people to check in at one of their locations, and that would be a perfect review product if you’re a fashion blogger.
When I was at BlogWorld, location-based services were extremely helpful because I could see what my friends were doing and where people were without having to call or text anyone. For example, there was a party one night that I was on the fence about attending because I’m not a fan of huge crowds. I checked out the check-ins for that location on Foursuare and made the decision not to go based on the huge number of people already at that event. Oh, and while I was doing that, one of my friends popped up checking in somewhere else, and it looked like a much smaller event (it was), so I went and had a blast. At conferences, bloggers often don’t personally know tons of other people, so it can be weird to ask for a cell number. Check-ins allow you to find the people you want to meet without being a total creeper.
Ok, those are my favorite three tips for using location-based social networking if you’re a blogger. How do you use this form of new media?