Location-Based Social Networking: What’s the Point?

May 17, 2011

by Kim Taylor

Last summer, after hearing friends and followers rejoice over badges and mayorships they’d earned, I joined the “check-in” craze to see what all the fuss was about.  After adding a few friends to my Foursquare account, I began checking into various locations.  Soon enough I was rewarded with a few of my own badges—and several months in I actually earned my first mayorship … probably because nobody else was ever checking into the Orlando Rowing Club at 6 a.m.

Beyond the badges, there have also been a few cool things along the way.  Once, after checking into a bar in town, I noticed an online friend I’d never met in real life was also there.  A few tweets later and we had our first in-person interaction.  Then, last month while vacationing out-of-state, I used Foursquare’s “nearby” feature to see where the locals were hanging out.

But lately I’ve noticed something.  The badges have stopped, and beyond the actual check-in, there’s little reason to participate.  The check-in rewards that businesses are supposed to be using to market themselves are few and far between.

So, if you’re using Foursquare, Facebook Places, Yelp or some other location-based social network, do you find it useful or do you find yourself asking, “What’s the point?”

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