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Have You “Checked-In” to Today’s Hottest Mobile Technology?

On Four Square, I am the mayor of my local Starbucks, a sno-cone stand (it is summer after all), a popular mid-century modern furniture store, as well as my hair salon, to name a few. If you have no idea what I am talking about or aren’t sure why you should care, tune in.

Location-based applications are growing stronger every day and should be on your need-to-know list. Part social city guide and part game, location-based applications include Four Square, Gowalla and Loopt. Each of these sites focus on one thing: connecting you to the community. And, just like the early days of Facebook and Twitter, a lot of people still don’t “get” these applications.

If this is something you are pondering, here are three reasons I suggest you start using location based sites (a little bit for fun and a little bit for business):

1. They are quick and easy to use.

All you have to do is create an account, sign in on your mobile device and click “check in” at any venue or location.

2. You can show your local expertise.

You probably know a lot about what your town has to offer. Now that you have signed up, utilize that knowledge by giving tips on local businesses that you frequent. This is another way for you to connect with potential clients and get your name out there.

One of the most interesting things on Four Square happened the first time I “checked in” at my local grocery store. As soon as I checked in, a tip from a Four Square friend about a café nearby came on the screen. I had the option of saving or deleting the message. It was brilliant because I had never heard of the café and it immediately made me think that I should check it out. And, that my friend must be familiar with the area.

So, what does it mean to be “mayor”? Each time you check in you are in the running to become the mayor of a venue. The mayor of a venue is the person who has visited the location the most in a given time period (usually 2 months). When you are named mayor of a venue, it shows up on their Four Square page. Smart businesses with products to offer consumers, like Starbucks, are capitalizing on this by giving incentives to users and mayors who frequent their establishment.

Of course, sometimes being mayor is fun for bragging rights. In my Twitter feed I have seen many mayor battles for Keller Williams offices, which has been fun to watch. But, I don’t suggest feeding every Four Square check-in to Twitter.

3. These sites are growing in YOUR city.

On June 16, Four Square reached 1.6 million users and word is that at least 10 people check in somewhere every second! The site is partnering with many brands including the Wall Street Journal and Bon Appetit magazine, to name a few.

Gowalla is another leader in the location-based craze and has been creating exciting partnerships. Recently the company partnered with Best Buy to give away free Eye-fi cards and also with USA Today to create “road trips” with suggested locations to check in to.

This blog post is just scratching the surface of the location-based applications. There are many other hot issues surrounding location such as privacy issues, when you should and should not feed your check-ins to Twitter, and much more that we will touch on in the future. In the meantime, give us your opinion–should agents use location-based applications and why or why not?

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