Imagine walking into your favorite Lawrence business and being presented with special prices and deals only you can have. With the newest tools of social media, it’s possible.
Applications such as Foursquare and Gowalla are geographically based social networking programs for mobile phones that use GPS to pinpoint your location. All you have to do is walk into any business, store or restaurant and “check in” on your phone by selecting your location from a list provided by the Foursquare program. If you don’t have a smart phone, it still works with text messaging.
Only people you have added to your list of friends on Foursquare will be able to see where you are checked in. If you choose to link your account with another site, such as Twitter or Facebook, your friends on those sites will also be able to see your location.
After checking in, users can leave tips for others looking at that location. One user who checked into The Underground wrote, “Don’t go at noon… seriously.”
Foursquare logs each of your visits and at many businesses, more visits mean more perks.
DoctorDave Computer Repair, 4105 West Sixth St., is one place in Lawrence with a Foursquare special, giving 10 percent off labor costs after every third visit. Dave Greenbaum, owner of DoctorDave Computer Repair, said he preferred Foursquare to Gowalla because of its mayor and point systems.
“There’s a little bit of that competitive aspect,” he said.
On Foursquare, if you check in to a location more than any other person, you become the “mayor.” Depending on the business, it may reward you for your loyalty. Greenbaum said he hasn’t seen Foursquare boost his business, but he said the idea has potential.
“It creates more interaction with your customers,” he said, “and that’s what a lot about keeping customers is.”
Joe Davis, a senior from Coventry, Conn., and social media manager for Lawrence Freenet and 23rd Street Brewery, said many of the social networking groups around Lawrence such as the Social Media Club of Lawrence use Foursquare to network and find friends.
Davis said Facebook is looking to release its own location-based network. Because Foursquare and Gowalla have only a fraction of the users, Facebook might have the upper hand if it was to establish a similar program.
“That might be the killer of both of them,” Davis said.
But for now, the big social networking sites are helping the geographically based sites. By linking your account with sites such as Twitter and Facebook, you can see if your friends are nearby.
“I’ve had some impromptu get-togethers downtown,” Greenbaum said. “It’s a lot of fun as a user.”