February 1-5 was Social Media Week in New York City, with panel discussions, events and parties happening all over the city. The buzz before the week was about “geolocation services” and I heard many a prediction that it would be a major theme of many panel discussions. Katy Kelley, VP of Communications at Carrot Creative (and Cubs fan, to boot!) kicked it off at Gotham Media Ventures’ Digital Cocktails: Creating Effective Social Media Campaigns with a simple statement: “Geolocation tracking [is] going to be HUGE in 2010.”
Though I didn’t hear as much about geolocation services in the panels as I expected, I ended up contributing to its future “hugeness” more than I expected. SMW NYC provided a huge opportunity to “check-in” on Foursquare wherever I went. Even when my tweets and check-in attempts were swallowed up in the AT&T black hole at the Digital Cocktails panel, I still managed to check in at the event — once I got home four hours later. I was excited to share with my friends and followers that I was attending these super-geeky-cool events and add my “shout-out” to enhance the check-in with my own personality.
But it was on my way home from Razorfish‘s “Reinvention from the Ground Up” panel on Wednesday night when I realized how “huge” geolocation really is. When I got off the R train I immediately checked Twitter to find that one of my new connections from the week had just checked-in on Foursquare on the B/D/N/Q line while going over the Manhattan Bridge – with 12 others. Yes, 13 people (most likely SMW attendees) pulled out their iPhones, Blackberries, or Androids as soon as the train surfaced above ground and used the 3 minutes it takes to ride over the bridge from Manhattan to Brooklyn (before going under ground again) to check in on Foursquare. This speaks volumes to me about the power and addictiveness of Foursquare. This isn’t a restaurant or club or coffee shop or cool event. Nobody who checks in on the subway while going over the bridge is going to get a discount from the MTA for being its Mayor (well, maybe not yet…). Yet somehow, when 13 people had 3 minutes of service above ground, they didn’t check Facebook or Twitter or send a text message – they wanted to tell their connections that they were there on Foursquare.
What this says to me about the future of geolocation services such as Foursquare is that people will use it not for discounts or rewards but to express and share what they identify with in their surroundings – what represents them. In New York City culture, the subway is a major part of our daily lives and the line you ride and borough you live in can be a big part of your identity. Residents wear t-shirts with their train line letter or number on it. Of course they’re going to check in – and maybe up their status with another badge – on the subway.
So what did I do the next night? I checked in on the R train on my way home from work.
Just for the fun of it, here were all my check-ins during SMW NYC:
- Let Social Media Week begin! #smwnyc (@ SLC Center w/ 4 others) http://4sq.com/cB4wWW 6:59 PM Feb 1st from foursquare
- Spontaneous tweetup! (@ Lucy’s Cantina Royale) w/ @amandarykoff and @turquoiz http://4sq.com/dCtduz 8:23 PM Feb 1st from foursquare
- Tried to check in 4hrs ago but AT&T failed me! (@ For Your Imagination Studios) http://4sq.com/6y6wcl 11:10 PM Feb 2nd from foursquare
- I just unlocked the “Adventurer” badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/9wubKv 12:31 PM Feb 3rd from foursquare
- Social Graph Optimization panel! #smwnyc (@ JWT w/ 11 others) http://4sq.com/6VnHVt 12:31 PM Feb 3rd from foursquare
- Reinvention from the Ground Up, hosted by @razorfish #smwrazor #smwnyc (@ Razorfish NYC w/ 15 others) http://4sq.com/8XHWhr 7:04 PM Feb 3rd from foursquare
- I just unlocked the “Bender” badge on @foursquare! http://4sq.com/aBsmE4 8:49 PM Feb 4th from foursquare
- Late night at the office. Heading home for nachos! (@ MTA – Rector Street 1/R/W) http://4sq.com/4uCKBZ 8:49 PM Feb 4th from foursquare
- God help me, I’m addicted to @foursquare already. I checked in on the R train. 11:56 PM Feb 4th from Tweetie
- Vegetarian heaven. Soy chicken and burgers and bacon, oh my! (@ Quantum Leap) http://4sq.com/2I8ZQ4 7:59 PM Feb 5th from foursquare