Last week, I looked at where people are checking-in on location based social networks like foursquare, but now I want to know why people are checking-in. Is it the accumulation of points? The attainment of new badges? The hope that your friends actually care where you are and will want to come join you? What is it that drives people to check-in on the popular location-based social network, foursquare?

According to BitsyBot Labs, 17 people check in to foursquare every second. With such a popular response to the social media tool, so much so that Facebook is even planning to implement location based updates, the reasons have to be good. And so they are.

Here are my top ten reasons for why people check-in to location based social networks.

1. To meet up with friends – Just like the NBA finals example I gave in my post, The foursquare Phenomenon Explained, location based social networks can be great for finding your friends in the city or seeing who’s nearby so you can meet up.

2. To see what trending places are nearby – Bored? Check foursquare to see what’s in the area – probably more fun things than you realize. Or… recently, I found myself waiting an hour for a table at a restaurant. My stomach was protesting the wait, but I was not familiar enough with the town to start walking towards a new destination, which, with my luck, would take more than an hour anyways. With a stroke of brilliance, I was able to turn to foursquare to see what else was in the area and pick out a restaurant just a block away that had no wait at all!

3. To look up an address – I knew I was at P.F. Chang’s for dinner, but when my friend driving to meet me got lost and asked for the address, I had no idea. Luckily, foursquare displays the street address at each venue so you know you’re checking-in to the right place. I was able to pull up the address for her so she could enter it into her GPS and wouldn’t leave me waiting for another 20 minutes.

4. To show off and let your friends know what an awesome time you’re having – It’s sad, but true. Aren’t half the updates you see on Facebook about how awesome people’s lives are anyways? It’s okay – you’re cool and you want people to know it. Just invite your friends along and they’ll still like you.

5. To check up on people – Whether you’re an anxious mother or a concerned friend, being able to know where people are is sometimes a comfort. Just don’t go too far down the stalker route!

6. To earn points and play the game – foursquare gives you points each time you check-in and more points if it’s a new venue. You can even check the leader board to see how you’re doing each week compared to your friends and try and earn more badges. While this may seem a bit dorky, it’s actually a good incentive to get out and explore new areas of the city.

7. To kill two birds with one stone… or even three – When you check-in on foursquare, you can enter your own personal message and then automatically update your Twitter and Facebook accounts simultaneously. Voila, now everyone knows you’re rocking out at the House of Blues!

8. To keep track of your travels – If you remember from my post last week, travel was fairly high up on the list of types of venues people check-in to. But, if you’re like me, trips are often too short and crammed with too much. Your foursquare check-in history is a nice way to keep track and remember where you were. I just got back from Washington D.C. last week and, just like in elementary school, my mom asked what I did that day… for probably one of the first times in my life, I was able to recall every place I visited, much to her detail-starved delight.

9. To stall for time – When meeting friends out, there’s always the one friend who’s punctual while the rest are just “five to ten minutes away.” I think smartphones were invited for the punctual people in the world. Checking-in to foursquare gives you something to do while you wait for the friends who are actually fifteen to twenty minutes away.

10. To boost business – Last, but not least, many businesses are finding creative ways to use social-based networks. How? Check back next week to see!

How have you used foursquare or other location-based social networks successfully?


This post was first published by Meredith L. Eaton on March Communications’ blog, PR Nonsense.