Facebook rolled out ‘Places’ to users last week and so far, mark me down as not very impressed. I’m not sure what I expected, but Facebook Places leaves a lot to be desired. I’m not sure I get why they added it, when it doesn’t really add any value to the user experience–if anything–it adds to the noise in my news feed.
I have used, some more than others, location-based services (LBS) by Yelp, Facebook, Gowalla, Whrrl, Foursquare, BrightKite, and Rally Up. SCVNGR and Loopt have found a way on to my phone, but I have not used them.
With that being said, what makes a good LBS experience?
- I like the ability to check-in easily. (Partly because I am a freak when it comes to these LBS apps – using at least 4 of them for a while) After launching the app I don’t want to touch 5 screens to let people know where I am. I also would prefer not to “add’ a place, but as an early adopter I understand that comes with the territory. In my opinion, Whrrl has this down.
- I want to be able to take a picture and post a comment easily. That’s truly sharing an experience, why else would I post my ‘check-in’ to Facebook or Twitter? Maybe this is the marketer in me coming out and not the end-user. Whrrl also has this down, making it more of a way to scrapbook your experience.
- I want my other social friends to be using the platform. Foursquare almost has this down, but this is the only edge I give to Facebook in the LBS space. Unless they improve their other features quickly, most of the general public won’t see the point of why anyone would want to check-in anywhere.
- As much as I cringe to see myself typing this–I want some sort of scoring system. I kinda like how Foursquare has the points thing going. I also love the idea of badges. It makes much more sense to me than Gowalla’s items. And the mayors? That’s fun. Even my two kids get into the mayor thing. Asking me “hey daddy, are you the mayor of this place?” when the see me checking in on my phone.
If you can’t tell already, I love Whrrl. If you haven’t tried it, please do. Foursquare will likely win out, since it has a lead with user adoption. But let’s hope Facebook starts going places with it’s attempt at a LBS, because if it doesn’t it may just kill the public confidence in why one can be helpful for both social consumers and social marketers.