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Whrrl Acquired by Groupon, and Being Shut Down

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Groupon and Pelago (creator of location-based program Whrrl) both posted on their blogs this week that Pelago has been acquired by the group buying site.

whrrl The most important aspect of this news is that Whrrl is being shut down by the end of the month. For good? Pelago explains:

We’ve made the decision to close the curtain on Whrrl for now. Think of it as the end of the first act of a long and complex play. You would be right to expect that the ideas underpinning Whrrl and many of the inventions contained within may reemerge under the Groupon banner.

What does that mean for existing Whrrl users? Well, if they log on they will now find the option to retrieve all their data, and “ultimately have the opportunity to use it again.” So, this bit encourages fans of the application that they will get to use the tool in some greater capacity, hopefully in the near future.

Whrrl has always been more than just “checking in”. They encourage users to give and receive recommendations about locations and activities via the service. Since Groupon is tied to locations and discounts, I can see how merging the two applications could lead to bigger and better things on both fronts.

What do you think of the acquisition? Are you a Whrrl user and wish it would stay active?

How Bloggers can Use Location-Based Social Media

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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!

  • Building Your Brand

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!

  • Earn Free Stuff

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.

  • Conference Connections

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?

Holidays 2010: All About Location-Based Services?

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Although Foursquare was around this time last year, this is the first holiday season where I think we’ll see significant use of location-based social networking by shoppers. While users have long-used apps to locate stores, I think we’ll see a rise in usage this year for one main reason: coupons.

According to a survey as seen on Mashable, an average of 30 percent of users are willing to travel move than five miles to redeem a coupon. Of the 1200 surveyed, 21 percent are already using mobile coupons and 36 percent expect product descriptions found on location apps to be valuable while doing holiday shopping. Times are still tough, and just like last year, shoppers are willing to give up convenience of shopping online, shopping at a single store, or shopping at the nearest store to save money. I know I am.

So what does this all mean to you?

For Businesses:

  1. If you have a brick-and-mortar business, consider offering a coupon via location-based apps like Foursquare and Whrrl. In general, the better coupon you offer, the farther customers will travel to redeem it.
  2. Produce descriptions will go a long way in convincing someone to come to your store. Even if you can’t afford an awesome coupon, smart usage of location-based services can help you attract customers.
  3. Publicize your location-based app deals. If you leave it up to the customer to stumble upon what you’re offering, you won’t see much of  response.
  4. If you’re online-only, it might not make sense to offer coupons for location-based services, but don’t forget that offering coupons during the holiday season is a great way to drum up some business. Even if you’re a blogger offering an ebook, discounts during the holidays are appreciated.

For Shoppers:

  1. If you use a location-based service to find someone, especially a small business, tell the cashier as you check out. It encourages them to continue using the service.
  2. Do searches before you leave home to find the best deals and coupons being offered.
  3. Considering downloading a few different apps, since coupons could be offered through some, but not others. For example, Foursquare is great when I’m around home because some of the businesses I frequent offer coupons, but while I was at BlogWorld, Whrrl gave me amazing deals.

Will you be using location-based social networking this holiday season?

Facebook Cannonballs Into the Location-Based Apps Arena With ‘Places’

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Of course, the day after I ask everyone what location-based app I should try out, Facebook announces that they’ve entered the arena with their own application, ‘Places‘. Maybe it was a good thing I waited this long to hop on board?

Yesterday Facebook made the Places announcement at their Palo Alto headquarters, even inviting their major competitors (Foursquare, Gowalla, and Booyah) to the discussion. During presentations, some of the partners discussed integration and how they would leverage the API for Places. Booyah announced the launch of InCrowd, a new social game specifically designed to leverage the functionality of Places. Gowalla and Foursquare also talked about their applications will allow you to check-in and publish info to your Facebook feed. Your badges and pins will transfer over as well. While it appears that everyone is playing nice, only time will tell how the Places competitors fare.

So what’s the big deal with Places? Well, the major advantage Facebook has over the competition is two-fold:

  1. The Numbers. Facebook has over 500 million users. Foursquare has over 1 million check-ins per day. Huge difference! Now we’re not saying that all Facebook members will use Places, but it will only take a small amount to quickly overtake the competitors.
  2. Tagging. Places allows users to tag their Facebook friends who are also at the same location when they check in. This is unique over the other location-based apps, and something that I wondered about when I debated which application to test!

I’m curious to know, will you be switching to Facebook Places?

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