That’s the question I posed to my Facebook friends earlier this year when I was wrapping up a consulting project. I wanted to give the person who referred me to an opportunity, a small token of my appreciation. At the time, Foursquare had not yet split its check-in activity into a separate app called Swarm. Since I was connected to this individual on Foursquare (and she checked in on Foursquare frequently), I was familiar with the restaurant and entertainment venues she likes.
At first I was a little concerned that using this information could be construed as creepy. But, she was posting to Foursquare and syncing her check-ins to Facebook (where we’re also connected). Rather than guessing at where she might like a gift certificate to, I could give her a gift I knew she’d enjoy, by using her social media activity she’s chosen to share publicly.
But before I purchased my gift, I posted my question to my Facebook friends. In an unscientific poll, it was a near unanimous opinion that using the shared social check-in information was considerate.
This is just one example of how social check-ins can be valuable. Businesses can learn about customers who frequent their location. Customers can often receive incentives for checking in (free items, discounts, Wi-Fi access). It can also be used as a search engine tool to discover new businesses in an area or see what’s trending in your area.
Social check-ins can also be used in the job search process. Job seekers may be able to learn information about the hiring manager (and visa-versa). But, be careful with the information you choose to publicly share and the check-in knowledge you choose to use. Not everyone will view the “considerate vs. creepy” question the same way!
What are your thoughts on social check-ins? Do you participate? Do you find value in them?