To Check In or Not to Check In? Foursquare in Question

Heading out to dinner, arrive at the restaurant.   Should you check in?  To check in or not to check in on FourSquare/Gowalla/Yelp is often the question these days.

Chris Brogan wrote a post about why he doesn’t like Foursquare which Derek Massey responded to with this post about why Chris is wrong about Foursquare.

Foursquare has enabled me to meet people in my local community, learn more about people I already know and share relevant information to select people.

I am protective of my privacy and even more importantly, the privacy of my children. I am very selective about the people I let into my Foursquare network.  I don’t check in to every venue I visit, I only check in to places I want people to know about, and I rarely post to Twitter.  When I do post, I have a reason for it.

Gowalla, Foursquare and other location based services have tremendous value when used effectively.

Businesses and careers are built on relationships.  No computer can replace the feeling of giving someone a hug or sitting down and having a honest, in person, face to face conversation.  Location based services enable us to get face to face where we can deepen existing relationships.  There is tremendous power in it when used properly. Just because some individuals abuse it doesn’t mean it is a communication channel that should be avoided.  Think about how many spammers misuse email, yet we still see email as a valid communication channel when used properly.

Here are my simple do’s and don’t for location based services like Foursquare, Gowalla & Yelp

  • DO be careful who you friend on the network.
  • DON’T accept every friend request.
  • DO see who else has checked in to the venue you are at.  It’s a great way to meet local people.
  • DON’T auto-feed every check-in to Twitter if you are a power user, you will alienate your network.
  • DO add context! Include a message, especially if your posts feed to Twitter or Facebook.  Share something interesting about the venue or add another message so your followers know why this is important!
  • DON’T violate your customer/clients privacy by checking in when you shouldn’t.
  • DO be cautious of your personal safety.
  • DON’T check in at the same time and place every day if you are concerned about personal safety. Be aware that frequent check ins can indicate a pattern of your physical whereabouts.
  • DO add tips for other users in your network.
  • DON’T check-in if you are supposed to be somewhere else (like at work!)
  • and most importantly…DO use common sense.

Use of location based services are not going to be beneficial to everyone. If you are in the CIA or working on sensitive mergers and acquisitions, checking in might not be a good idea.  But if you are looking to meet local people, foursquare, gowalla or yelp could be a great tool in your tool belt.