Catch Me If You Can

Foursquare and Gowalla combine social media, games, and on-the-town discovery...all from your mobile phone.



 

"Location-based.”

It’s the latest big buzz in social media, and if you have a cell phone, preferably a smart-phone, you can play along. And we do mean “play.”

Currently there are two main players in location-based games: Foursquare and Gowalla. They have their differences, but basically serve the same purpose—they allow you to “check in” at local restaurants, bars, clubs and attractions like museums (that’s the “location” part). You can let your friends who are on the service or connected via Twitter or Facebook know where you are (that’s the “social” part), and you can collect points, badges, tokens and sometimes even tangible prizes based on your check-ins (that’s the “game”).

Basically, the services work like this: When you’re at a location, take out your phone, fire up your Foursquare or Gowalla app (iPhone, Android, Blackberry), and “check in.” The service can help find your location based on your GPS or Wi-Fi coordinates. You can then choose to share your check-in with friends (or not), and you can even add messages or tips, like a favorite menu item.

Currently, Foursquare is the leader in location-based games, and Pittsburgh was added as one of its cities last fall. Ever see a message on Twitter or Facebook saying your friend is now “Mayor of Joe’s Bar”? That’s Foursquare. It means your friend leads all other locals with check-ins at that location. Gowalla? It’s the prettier app and gaining popularity fast.

Why should you care? Like Twitter or Facebook before it, these location-based games aren’t necessarily easy to “get” right away. But like those services, these games are about using technology to connect with others and to share likes and dislikes.

Abby Ross, assistant director of internal communications at Carnegie Mellon University, who also happens to be well-known and well-liked in local social-media circles, is a particular fan of Gowalla, both for its features and for its design. “These location-based services are not a big shift from Twitter, because people are already curious about what their friends are doing,” Ross says. “They add the element of a game and a creative way to discover great new places in Pittsburgh.”

And that’s exactly why businesses should care. By offering incentives to users of Foursquare or Gowalla, such as discounts or a free item to those who check in or achieve a certain status, a business can help spread the word about what it has to offer and can thank those who check it out.

Chris Dilla, owner of Bocktown Beer and Grill in North Fayette, a business that is active on other social-media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, says she is “extremely in-tune” with how the location-based services can help business. “We have customers coming in who are definitely using them, and we’re learning about taking part and making the most of the services, both for our customers and for us. Like all social media, it’s fun, builds camaraderie and brings real people through the door.”

To learn more, visit foursquare.com or gowalla.com.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.
HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

HGTV Series Pilot Focuses on Renovation of Pittsburgh Home

The pilot episode of “Steel City Rehab” follows a Pittsburgh couple as they flip a home in the city’s East End.
‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

‘The Good Wife’s’ Zach Grenier Appears on the Pittsburgh Stage

Grenier on playing the dream role of Willy Loman, coming to Pittsburgh and performing at the renowned Pittsburgh Public Theater.
Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

Enjoy a Cocktail to Help Preserve Pittsburgh's Historic Murals

The nearly 80-year-old murals by Maxo Vanka show an immigrant's’ perspective on important issues.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Health Care in Pittsburgh that Goes Beyond the Office

Innovations in Postpartum Depression Treatment, First-Aid Training and Food Security.
Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

Restaurant Review: DiAnoia's Eatery Bridges the Gap

With a little work, the Strip District restaurant could become a Pittsburgh classic.
Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

Looking Back: Dan Rooney, Remembered

The builder of two stadiums, a billion-dollar football business, NFL labor harmony and racial sensitivity, and bridges between constituencies –– he was an everywhere man whose soft, steady hand was felt everywhere.
Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Pittsburgh at the Forefront of The Brain Revolution

Alzheimer’s disease is the most expensive ailment to treat and the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. Pittsburgh has become a battleground in the fight against the devastating illness, thanks to the decade-long quest of two Pittsburgh researchers whose work is on track to change the face of medicine and affect millions worldwide.
Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

Dr. Thomas E. Starzl’s Legacy

The “Father of Transplantation” created a pioneering medical center and a city transformed by medicine.
The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

The Slinky Playing Right Wing for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Winger Conor Sheary emerges as a constant scoring threat and tenacious on-ice presence.
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

New Study: Pittsburgh Drivers are The Worst of the Worst

Pittsburgh ties with one other city for having the worst drivers in the nation.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Scratch Food & Beverage Has a New Executive Chef

Brandon Blumenfeld introduces an American gastropub menu at the Troy Hill bar.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

Five Inexpensive But Memorable Date Spots in Pittsburgh

These spots are tailored for couples who are looking for a simple, chill night out on Valentine’s Day (or any other day). If your significant other isn’t the type to be wooed by expensive wines and chocolates, this is the list for you.

Comments


Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

Dive Bar & Grille Expands to South Side, Remains Charming

The latest outpost of the small, Wexford-born chain isn't flashy, but offers good beer and grub.

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

‘Use Him Like ‘Troy Polamalu’ – Steelers Should Jump on This Pick

If Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers is still available, the Pittsburgh Steelers would be wise to make him their first-round pick in the NFL draft.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Pittsburgh on a Plate

Pittsburgh on a Plate

The way to a beer lover’s heart is mapped out on notNeutral’s plate, which highlights Pittsburgh breweries (and other points of interest) across the city.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

A Refreshing Action Flick and a Redundant Thriller

Reviews of "Free Fire," "Unforgettable" and "The Promise," plus local movie news and notes.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

Beautiful Blooms: Twists on the Traditional Bouquet

You’ll definitely want the story behind these stunning wedding flowers.

Comments


Weekly inspiration for your home from the editors of Pittsburgh Magazine
Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Rare Plants, Accessories, Up for Grabs at 2017 Garden Marketplace

Hosted by the Penn State Master Gardeners, the free event, which includes the local daffodil society’s annual show, features exclusive and hard-to-find flowers, shrubs, fruit and vegetable plants and other garden accessories from a variety of vendors.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

A-Rod to Talk Baseball and Steroids at Slippery Rock

Considered one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Alex Rodriguez also is one of the league's more controversial stars.

Comments