Location-based social networking platform Gowalla makes it incredibly easy for people to check in to “Spots” — places of interest to the people who use Gowalla.
This is very beneficial, of course, because whenever people check in to Spots, they’re essentially exposing all of their online friends to your business.
Even with all of the communication options available these days, word-of-mouth is still the most effective form of advertising. And Gowalla helps spread the word about your business further and faster than ever before.
What Are Gowalla Spots?
Spots are the core feature of Gowalla. They are physical locations, like a restaurant, bookstore, hotel, sports arena — any place that people can visit.
On Gowalla, Spots can contain several pieces of information about your place of business, such as its location, (via a Gowalla map), contact information, hours of operation, and website address.
A Spot can be created by either a Gowalla user or the Spot’s owner. Once at a Spot, a visitor must check in using the Gowalla application to confirm that she is there. Her mobile device confirms her location via GPS. The check-in is then recorded in her history, and she can add a comment about her visit.
Once you’ve signed up and claimed your business, you can edit all of its details — including the business name — if necessary.
3. Get a Customized Stamp
People are drawn to Gowalla in part because it allows them to collect stamps from the places they’ve visited. It’s sort of like a bragging wall to show off where they’ve been.
You can purchase a customized stamp for your business from Gowalla, making it even more attractive to the people who collect them. Customized stamps also help Gowalla users quickly identify your type of business; you could create a menu stamp to show that you’re a restaurant, for example.
For approximately $250, you’ll get a customized online Stamp, and vinyl window stickers with the same artwork to display in your storefront. This will give you a visual identity above and beyond the default template icons provided by Gowalla.
4. Create a Trip
“Trips” are a collection of Spots, usually within a physical vicinity, that people can visit. Once someone has visited all the Spots in the Trip, he or she gets a badge for the effort.
For example, Walt Disney World partnered with Gowalla to create a series of Trips around its theme parks. This was another fun way for park visitors to experience several well known venues and hidden gems within the massive complex.
Once you’ve entered the details and a minimum three spots, you can decide whether to make the Trip private to only your friends, or public to everyone on Gowalla.
5. Be Desirable
Of course, the bottom line is that your business won’t succeed unless you create a place people want to be.
Check-ins are the Gowalla version of people telling others that you’re awesome. The more people that want to be at your spot, the more those people will want to tell others about it.
And as we all know, there’s no more powerful sentence in advertising than, “Hey, you’ve gotta come check this place out!”
Location based services like Gowalla provide businesses the advantage of instant feedback.
Instead of a survey or story shared later, people can tell others about your business right now, while they are in your venue. Businesses that effectively leverage this new word-of-mouth advertising stand to make the biggest gains.
How do you use Gowalla for your business? Does Gowalla give you greater awareness versus other forms of social media or advertising? Share your thoughts below.
[Image credit: el.pelon]
Paul Flanigan: Paul Flanigan is the mad scientist behind Experiate.net, where he writes about branding, marketing, social media, and consumer engagement. Paul has worked previously for companies like Best Buy and the San Diego Padres, and has consulted several companies on best practices for consumer engagement through digital and social media. You can find him tweeting @paulflanigan.