I experimented using the location-based checkin service of Foursquare for the first time this past week. The main place I checked in was work everyday. Since I work for a public library, there were a few other people that checked in regularly. There were also a few problems with the library profile that I need to fix. It had a really old picture and was listed as a college library, rather than a public library. Luckily I also had to travel for work this week so I had more check ins than I normally would. This allowed me to experiment a bit with badges and tips. Interestingly, not many places I checked in had badges and the tips for each place were minimal. To be relevant to my blog topic, I wandered downtown and checked in at a few local bookstores.
I also posted a few reviews to Yelp this week. The town I live in has a very active downtown area and the majority of restaurants in town are locally-owned. I searched around and read reviews for several of the local restaurants and what I found was interesting. First, I noticed that not many Laramie residents were posting reviews. This could be because it’s a small town so most locals know what is good and what isn’t, and most poor restaurants go out of business quickly since there isn’t a huge new client base if people don’t like your food. Second, the majority of people posting reviews were travelers passing through or students who would only be here a few years. This was interesting because it seems to be rather the norm for Yelp, so if I really decide to start posting to the site I may want to consider doing so when I travel to other cities.
There are several ways PR professionals and journalists could use location-based services. For the library, it’s a good way to look into some of our patrons who are more tech-savvy and use the service as a way to retain their patronage. Several other businesses in my area could use the services to increase their customer base, as I did not receive an incentive or badge from any local check in. For journalists, it makes it easier to balance a story, as you can easily find a positive and negative review for the place/business you’re covering.