Gowalla is one of many popular location based services that allow users to “check in” to businesses and other places of interest, letting their friends know where they are and what they’re doing.

Local businesses can capitalize on Gowalla by identifying and interacting with social media-savvy customers in real time, when they are actually patronizing the business.

Gowalla builds brand awareness among the users’ friends who see the check-ins and allows you, the business owner, to build relationships and brand loyalty with customers who repeatedly check in to your business.

But first, you have to be aware of these check-ins. And to do that, you must first claim your business on Gowalla.

How to Claim Your Business if It Already Has Check-ins

Although it perhaps seems counterintuitive, in order to claim your business on Gowalla, someone must check in to it first. To find out if anyone has checked in to your business, use any web browser and navigate to www.gowalla.com/business.

How to Claim Your Business on Gowalla

Next, search for your business by filling in the Business and City, State fields. If someone has checked in to your business you’ll then see something that looks like this:

Someone has checked=

If you click on the business name (in blue) you’ll go to a check ins page where you’ll see valuable information like who’s checked in to your business, comments they’ve made and even photos they’ve taken at your business.

Click this button to claim your businessOn the right-hand side of the check-ins page, you’ll see a Google Map pinpointing your location and under it a green button that says, “Do you run this place? Claim it now.”

“Click the button and you’ll be presented with a number of fields to fill out, including your address, other websites associated with this business (Yelp and Google Places), and a phone number for the business which Gowalla will use to call you with a confirmation PIN code.

How to Claim Your Business if Nobody Has Checked In Yet

If you do a search for your business (as per the instructions above) and nobody has checked into your venue yet, you’ll see this:

No one has checked=

In order to claim your business, you (or somebody else) has to check in to it first. And to check in to your business, you’ll first need a user account.

Creating a User Account in Gowalla

Using any web browser, navigate to www.gowalla.com. In the middle of the page on the left hand side click “Sign Up Now” to begin.

Next, you can either sign up via the “Connect with Facebook” button (in which case you’ll be prompted to allow the Gowalla application to access your profile and acount information in Facebook). Or you can simply fill in the required fields which include your name and Email address, username and password.

Next, you’ll be ushered through 3 steps from Gowalla:

Find Friends

How to list your business on Gowalla Step 1 of 3

You’ll be given an option to Connect with Facebook to see whom of your Facebook friends are already on Gowalla. If you choose this option, you can find your Facebook friends and add them as Gowalla friends so that you can follow each others’ check-ins.

If you choose to skip this step (you can always add Facebook friends later) you’ll be asked to “Complete Your Passport” (see below).

Complete Your Passport
How to list your business on Gowalla Step 3 of 3

Complete your passport by entering your City, Birthday, Photo (you can use your Facebook photo) and Gender. You can either “Skip” this step (your passport, ie: your Gowalla user account, will be mostly blank) or “Save & Continue.”

To complete your account, you’ll need to verify your email address at the top of the page and click the verification link that will be sent to that email address.

Download the Application

Download the Gowalla applicationClick the green “Download the app” button or download the application to one of the supported mobile devices by navigating to http://m.gowalla.com using the username and password you just created.

Check In Then Claim Your Business

Use the Gowalla application you just downloaded to your mobile device to check in to your business. Once a check in has been created for your business, complete the steps in How to Claim Your Business if It Already Has Check-ins above.

Promoting your Business on Gowalla

Once you’ve claimed your business on Gowalla, you can add a detailed description, include a customized check in message, or even order a customized Passport Stamp. Find out more about how to promote your business on Gowalla’s business page.

Is your business listed on Gowalla? Have you interacted with customers who’ve checked in on Gowalla? Let us know via Twitter (@Sprout_Insights) or leave a comment below for your chance to be featured in an upcoming Fan Friday post.

[Image credit: John Fischer]