Bruce Reyes-Chow on Gowalla  VS  Bruce Reyes-Chow on Foursquare

UPDATE – April 2010: Gowalla and Foursquare have both gone through soem GREAT updating which has brought Gowalla back into use for me along with Foursquare.  Gowalla added two key features: a leader board and picture feature.  Foursquare changed the layout to be much more pretty.

Also Jenny Clayville’s post on how to use foursqaure and its lame factor is worth a quick read.

Not quite Ali vs. Frazier or Pacquiao vs. Mayweather, but there is certainly some passion heating up between those who are now starting to use Foursquare and Gowalla, the next generation of social networking platforms.

Okay, maybe not REALLY that big of a deal, but some of us have begun playing around with these two location-based social networking platforms and as I have talked with folks, it seems like some people are beginning to develop attachments to one more than another.

Then there are those that just think this location stuff is silly.

Fair enough, but lets get started anyway.

Where you find them:

Here is how it works:

  • You register and find other friends using the service;
  • You physically travel somewhere, anywhere;
  • You “check-in” to that particular location;
  • Your friends are notified in a variety of ways: web, twitter, fb, etc.
  • You Collect pins, points, badges, etc.;
  • Repeat at your next location;

I have been using both over the past couple of months so thought I that I would go ahead and post some thoughts.  In the end, how “good” these social networking platforms are depends greatly on personality and current patterns of social media usage.


  • mobile app – Both are apps that use your phone’s GPS to track your location.  Both are on the iPhone and Android. Foursquare also has a Blackberry app.
  • Badges – Each gives “badges” as you achieve certain thresholds like number of visits, types of locations, etc.
  • Facebook and Twitter – You can decide where you post your location.  Both allow for options to post on your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts or neither.


  • Search – Foursquare lets you search for locations whereas Gowalla has no search option but rather uses a browsing option.
  • Points/Mayors – As you check-in you receive “points” that track how you are doing in relationship to your friends.  These points are based on a city by city basis and reset each Sunday at midnight. Also, after a certain number of “check-in’s” at a particular location, you may become the “mayor.”  These mayorships can be taken from you as other people check-in at the same location.
  • Tips – At each location, you can leave tips and advice for others who check in there later.  Folks will leave tips on good eats, transportation issues, etc.


  • Items – As you go check-in at locations, occasionally you will  find “items” that you can drop off and/or collect.  Using these items you can become a founder and leave items for others to find later.  Kind of like a virtual treasure hunt.  Very fun.
  • Trips – There are set “trips” you can travel which includes a variety of city-based journeys: “Central Park Highlights,” “Austin Bar Hop” etc.
  • Look – I like the feel of Gowalla both in its look and style. The Gowalla badges and items are WAY more pleasing to the eye.

FOURSQUARE BY A NOSE – If I had to chose – which I don’t – I would choose to use Foursquare over Gowalla for two basic reasons: speed and community.

  • SPEED – The search function on Foursquare makes it much easier to find locations and check-in.  I have often been unable to find my location on Gowalla even though I KNOW there should have been a location already set up.  I am sure this has something to do with the rigidity of Gowalla’s GPS location-setting.  I have noticed that when I am somewhere that is big: mall, airport, etc Gowalla wants a more specific location whereas Foursquare lets you check-in to a more general area.  I don’t really want to spend a lot of time finding my location. Plus, if I happen to find a new location and have to add it to the system, Foursquare gives you bonus points whereas, Gowalla does not do anything extra for your time.  Overall, Foursquare is easier to do what it is supposed to do, find a place and check-in.
  • COMMUNITY – While there is a friends feature on Gowalla, it does not compare to Foursquare.  Both the Mayorship and points that Foursquare uses to track your movement are used to increase interaction between friends.  Mayors steal from one another and friends are put in order by points and cities so I tend to follow the movements of friends. Basically, there is not competitive or comparative aspect to Gowalla which I enjoy.  Now this might be intentional, but even so, I hardly ever interact with or check on friends on Gowalla.

In the end, if the point of these new social media platforms – besides advertising for restaurants, venues, etc. – is to actually be social, the speed and natural community interaction of Foursquare compels me to give the nod to the folks at Foursquare.

There you go, some musings on a non-essential but fun addition to your social media portfolio.

Happy checking-in

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