Two months ago, I would have frowned at the thought of “checking-in” to a place and letting my entire social network have access to my location.  However, I started to see some of my PR mentors, favorite bloggers and editors check-in and my classmates had great reviews about Foursquare so I decided to check it out for myself.

I’ve been using Foursquare for about two months now and I absolutely love it.  This location-based service social network (LBS) lets me control how my check-ins is viewed and whom I can share my check-ins with.  Foursquare has a gaming aspect to it, because your check-ins can get you badges (see my badges below). For example, when I checked-in at the Verizon Center for the Lady Gaga concert, I gained a Swarm badge because I checked-in to a place where many other people had checked-in.  You can, also, become a mayor of a location if you have the most check-ins there.  I’m currently the mayor of Howard University’s Founder’s Library.

The other perks that come with Foursquare are coupons to near-by locations and learning the hotspots of a city.  I follow a NY blogger and editor on Foursquare and it is interesting to see the restaurants that they eat at and the places that they get invited to because of their work.  NY is a place that I would like to reside in and their check-ins let me know where I need to be.  I, also, follow close friends that live in D.C. and other cities and because of their check-ins I’ve been able to check out new places for myself.

I can, also, see why businesses use this as a tool.  For example, I follow Bravo TV, and while I was in NY for spring break, I checked-in at Magnolia Bakery.  When I checked-in I received a Just Desserts badge, named after a Bravo TV show, because some of the Bravo personalities have eaten there.

Foursquare is not the only location-based service out there.  Google is making this concept even better.  With Google Maps 5.1 for Android one can connect their location to a real place by checking in using Latitude.

Latitude’s functions are different from other check-in applications.  Latitude sends notifications immediately at arrival.  One can also choose to automatically check in at places prior to being there.  It would then check-in without manually having to do so.  Latitude also automatically checks out of places to keep friends updated.

Facebook (FB) mobile, also, has a check-in application called Places.  I’m not a fan of this, because now my newsfeed is filled with check-ins instead of status updates. Lawrence Coburn explains this issue best in Facebook Places’ Facebook Problem and Why I’m Not Deleting Foursquare”.

My FB friends from home are the main users of Places, but they probably should have started off using an LBS app like Foursquare.  I don’t think it is wise for them to use the check-in service on FB: 1) I can foresee it being a problem in that community and 2)It bothers me that they only check-in to local places.  I don’t care that you went to Old Chicago every night this week, but I would like to see you check-in to a new restaurant in Nashville or check-in somewhere in Florida for spring break.  I feel like the idea of check-ins are to let your friends experience a new place as you experience it.  I would suggest that my Clarksville friends use Latitude or Foursquare instead of Facebook Places.

Below are other LBS’s to check out:

Loopt

Plancast

BooYah!

Whrrl

For more information read, “8 Cool Location-Based Social Networks”.

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