Why We Check In, And How We’ll Do It In 2011

Mashable explores the future of location-based services.

The location-based check-in – while it may have been a ‘trend to watch’ for the past two years, we’re not expecting it to disappear in 2011. From automatic location detection (to combat check-in fatigue?), to content and brand check-ins – how and what we check-in to will continue to evolve in 2011. Speaking to this point, a recent post at Mashable explored some of the reasons why we check-in – and how these deeper-rooted reasons might impact what we’re checking in to in 2011. We’ve pulled out some key points from the article below:

Why we check into locations:

  • Serendipity: Location-based services offer the ability to find other friends that use the platform and facilitate more serendipitous encounters. Your friend checked in at a bar near you? If convenient for both, you might join them.
  • Game Dynamics: Mayorships, badges and points fulfill a very basic human need to compete. However, whether current location-based services offer sufficient reason for users to maintain interest in competing – beyond that initial, transient ‘mayorship’ – is very much in question.
  • Personal diary: Useful while both traveling and while living in a large city – remember the name of that great, tiny restaurant or bar you stumbled onto.
  • Sharing experiences: Leaving tips and learning about others recommendations for what to order at a given spot.
  • To Score deals: Hopefully, businesses will find ways to incentivize customers to return and continue to spread their brand by checking-in.

Why we check into content:

  • Similar to why we check into a location, checking into content we’re watching – like a show or movie – is more about defining who we are, what we like and who we want to be. There will likely be some shows you watch that you’ll never publicly check-into (i.e., Jersey Shore) – but others that may illustrate your intellect, wit and appreciation for character-driven writing will likelier merit displaying a ‘badge’.
  • However, unlike locations, the reasons to continue checking-in are less compelling given the lack of clear competition or personal benefit. Deals aren’t likely, nor is there a sustainable sense of competition behind being ranked ‘no 1′ in terms of your knowledge of House. For these reasons, media properties will continue to experiment with sustainable offerings or incentives that will compel viewers to check-in – and to determine what the return is for the property.

Why we check into brands:

  • The most significant reason why an individual will check into a brand is to secure discounts and deals, or exclusive offerings. While personal definition and cache of course plays a role in what brands we’ll publicly want to associate ourselves with, one of the most compelling reasons will be what that brand offers us – be it a discount or exclusive content that our loyalty earned.

We hope that brands, media properties and location-based services will use these insights to create more compelling, easy (automatic?) & rewarding reasons for customers to ‘check-in’. You can only play the same game – with the same rules – for so long.

Mashable: The Art of the Check-In: From Location to Content to Brand

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