(Reposted by Pelago, makers of Whrrl on their business blog)
GPS based checkin apps are all the rage these days. They started to gain popularity in early 2009 with the launch of Loopt, Gowalla, and Yelp. Foursquare came along and made a big impact in this space, having recently surpassed 3 million users. Feeling the growing demand for check-in activity, Facebook also recently launched its check-in app called Places to its 500 million users.
What are GPS based checkin apps?
They are mobile applications available on GPS enabled smart phones that allow you to “check in” to your locations and share your whereabouts with your friends. You can also see where your friends are at any given moment. How are these new applications trending? Foursquare Founder Dennis Crowley was quoted recently that the service is signing up an average of 18,000 new users every day.
And then came Whrrl… A completely different experience over any other check-in app. Whrrl took this space by a whirlwind surprise and seems to be on a mission to “end Social Rut” by allowing users to not only check in to a location, but share their whole experience with notes, recommendations and photos. There’s much more to Whrrl than the other checkin apps.
Users get rewarded by gaining membership to Societies and can level up within those Societies. So it becomes like a game. You start competing with your online friends. When someone clicks on “I want to”, “I’ve done this” or recommend an experience to other users, you can also earn influence points.
You’ll learn fun facts about each check in, like the name of the person who first checked into a location or where people go before or after checking in to your location. Imagine the marketing potential for brick and mortar companies. You can create your own societies, too!
An increasing number of merchants have created offers to Whrrl users such as discounts to food or beverages, and even bigger perks to VIP members of high level Societies, which gives users incentive to continue checking in with Whrrl and making recommendations. Big brands are always trying to make tighter connections with their customers and build loyalty and they’re taking notice. Whrrl recently launched a promotion with RedBull, for example, showing that progressive companies are already testing the waters on check-in marketing.
“What differentiates Whrrl is our purpose: which is getting people out in the real world trying new things”, according to Jeff Holden, co-founder and CEO of Pelago, the company behind Pelago. “Users join Societies- which are passion groups for the real world – so, whether you’re a foodie, mountain biker or margarita-lover, there’s a Society for you. Once in, users inspire each other to try new experiences through sharing recommendations and photos/notes that capture their real-world experiences. In addition, they earn “influence points” as they try new things and inspire others to do so as well, and prove their adventures, too.”
So how do I use Whrrl? I enjoy sharing my experiences with my friends. Especially when I discover a new restaurant that I want to recommend. For example, my husband Jim and I had dinner with friends at California Shabu Shabu in Costa Mesa, California recently. That was our first time to dine in that type of restaurant, where you cook your own food. It’s very much like a fondue restaurant, but Asian inspired. We were amazed by the fresh veggies, meat and seafood selection and had so much fun cooking it ourselves while chatting with our friends and sipping Fuji Apple sake. What a fun evening! I checked in and was able to create a new location. And for doing this get I get whrrl cred. Each time you discover a new place you become more influential. I shared photos, added captions and recommended the restaurant right away. And it only took a few moments on my iPhone. Now all my friends can click on my Whrrl “story” and see my notes, photos and read my recommendation. Of course merchants love this–free word of whrrl marketing!
Here are some sample screen shots from my iPhone:
Who’s behind Whrrl?
Where Facebook Places has limited functionality which ties into existing Facebook pages, Foursquare and Whrrl bring a more elaborate and fun experience. Whrrl is my personal fav but it only currently works on iPhone platform. (But Android and Blackberry versions are coming soon according to Whrrl.) Wanna see how it works? Click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UnA0h88tmyY
So yup, Whrrl rrcks. But be careful, Whrrl is rrrrly addcting!
–MaryAnne Wendt / Twitter: @maryannewendt
MaryAnne Wendt is a purple loving techie girl who loves spending time with her family, all things Apple, anything web related, the beach & going to Disneyland. She’s an early adopter of Internet applications spanning over two decades. A social media junkie, MaryAnne tweets and regularly updates her pages on Facebook, LinkedIn, Posterous, WordPress, Whrrl, FourSquare, DailyMile, DailyBooth, Blip.fm, GetGlue and others. All her social media links are on her Flavors page at http://flavors.me/maryannewendt.
I just wanted to say Thank You to Heather Meeker, Director of Marketing & PR for Whrrl, for taking time to chat with me and Jim on the phone about Whrrl. Follow her on Twitter @HeatherMeeker. She’s awesome!
Featured Checkin Location:
California Shabu Shabu Restaurant
801 Baker St. #A
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Leonard Chan, Owner