Today is all about checking in. Not so much driven by anything in today’s news, but every week or so I’ll just go off based on what’s on my mind – driven by the news, to be sure, but also by the bricolage of a lot of inputs over time.
And over the past few weeks, I’ve been developing a thesis around the concept of “checking in.” Now for those of you not playing along at home, “checking in” is the terminology for “declaring where I am and what I’m doing through mobile devices and social media platforms.”
As usual, I’m a late bloomer in this new trend. I joined Foursquare, one of several check-in-based services, about a month ago. I’ve started checking in at work, the gym, various restaurants and local businesses. The service has a strong game element, with social capital earned for checking in, or doing more than one thing in a day, or unlocking action-based “badges,” or repeat check ins over time (Foursquare makes you “Mayor” of a location if you check in there the most. Competition amongst Foursquare nerds is pretty intense for those Mayorships.)
Other services that employ checking in include GoWalla, Yelp, and MyTown. Twitter is adding location services as we speak, which is just another way of saying it’ll support checking in shortly (although most check in services drive announcement tweets already).
And while it may not be clear as to why, I fully expect Google and Facebook to follow suit by enabling some kind of check-in behavior shortly.
Here’s why. To my mind, checking-in is simply another use case on the evolutionary path of search. As I said in the book, each search query is a declaration of intent – you are telling that search engine what you want, and hoping the engine will return a result that satisfies that declared intention.
Checking-in is a powerful new field in the database of intentions. It is a social declaration that “I am here” and, in a more nuanced way, “I am open to appropriate responses/conversations based on the fact that I am here.” Whereas search intent is clearly a request for a specific response, check-in intent is less specific – and hence more open.
I expect this to evolve quickly. I can imagine a time, and it ain’t far off, when we set our mobile devices to automatically check-in at our favorite places, and expect that that check-in will reward us with localized and personalized offers, discounts, and social capital of some sort or another. Furthermore, I expect we will soon expect that if we set our device to “discovery” mode, local businesses (and random strangers too) will be able to ping us with enticements and announcements of all kinds.
Instrumentation of this new social/local/mobile reality will be initially clumsy and fraught, but not for long. The use case is simply too compelling. It’s already happening in various ways – the Chipotle burrito app, the Polo store. Imagine what happens when McDonald’s adopts it? Game changer.
In other news:
Is Amazon Building a Superkindle? (NYT) Yes, it bought a multitouch technology company, and yes, it’s going to get fun out there in ApplevsAndroidvsAdobevsAmazonLand.
Snickers Uses Social Media, SEM to Support ‘Lead Spot’ in Super Bowl Ads (ClickZ) More proof that social marketing is platform independent/supportive.
Unclear ROI Impedes Mobile Marketing (MarketingProfs) You want proof of ROI? It’s coming. BTW, it’s also already here in terms of higher CTRs, if that’s your thing….(as anyone at AdMob or Microsoft Mobile Ads will tell you).
The IAgency: How the IPad Will Change the Advertising Business (AdAge) Or: Why We Should Emulate the Dying Publishing Industry. Yes please…do.
Mobile Internet Market to Eclipse Desktop Internet (Brian Solis) Anyone who saw Mary Meeker at Web 2 last year already knew this but it’s worth repeating…
Foursquare Plots Its Business Model (BI) Tick, tick, tick….BOOOOOM.