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Geolocation tools: an overview

Geolocation tools: an overview

27 April | Posted by @Roch Courcy

Social networking tools that are geolocation-based were part of every discussion in 2010 and will certainly increase in popularity in 2011. In order to make sure that everyone understands what a geolocation-based social networking tool is, we will provide you with our definition of it.

They’re tools that operate on Smartphones (iPhone, iPad, Blackberry, Android, etc.) and that allow users to tell people where they’re located, in real-time. In other words, users do a check-in, where they can share information on various social networks such as Facebook and Twitter and therefore alert their friends of their presence at a particular place. Businesses can also get information on those who have checked-in in order to create promotions for their loyal customer base. Users of these tools can earn many virtual rewards, add comments, pictures and give their input about places they’ve visited.

Here are the geolocation-based social networking tools that will be analyzed in this article: Foursquare , Gowalla, Facebook Places and Yelp.


foursquare was launched in March 2009, in Austin, Texas. To this day, it remains the most popular. Co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai, who met in 2007, first designed an early version of foursquare in 2008. As of March 2011, the number of people using this tool hit 8 million worldwide. According to a LesAffaires newspaper article, the number of daily foursquare users, in July 2010, was 13 000, which is 10 times more than its main competitor Gowalla.

foursquare can be used on various Smartphone devices such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Androïd, Palm, OVI and even on a mobile device.

foursquare allows you to check-in at Venues. You will also be able to earn Points and even Badges. By browsing on the Internet, we found a complete Badges list that will inform you on how to get them. Points and Badges won’t make you win anything in the real world, as they’re virtual rewards. However, because companies on foursquare offer promotions, you can be entitled to receive rebates thanks to the Points and Badges you’ve collected. These Specials are offered by the Venue’s manager on foursquare. Each promotion must be validated and, for this purpose, foursquare created a full-page that includes solutions for businesses and brands. The more check-ins you do, the more chances you have to become the Venue’s Mayor. By becoming Mayor, you can benefit from Specials and/or get more Badges.

Here are some foursquare screenshots.

When you’re at a Venue, you can add Tips, which mainly consist in giving positive or negative feedback about the Venue you’ve visited. These Tips will appear once you check-in at the same Venue or somewhere near-by. This way, users can add your Tip to their To-do list or let people know that they’ve done what was on their list.

Since the end of December 2010, foursquare enables users to add pictures at each Venue check-in. To this end, foursquare has announced that over one million pictures were added throughout the first 3 weeks after the feature was put in service. You can also comment your friends’ check-ins, another feature that wasn’t available before.

Another new feature added in February 2011 is that foursquare is now offered in 6 languages: in English, French, Spanish, German, Japanese and Italian. foursquare has also integrated a new feature that lets people discover the surroundings of where users are located and that gives suggestions of popular places and those that were suggested by friends.

To complete this foursquare overview, we invite you to view this explanatory video.

All in all, foursquare offers many possibilities to those who want to display their lifestyle to others and who want to take advantage of special offers. This tool also offers many solutions to companies who wish to get to know their audience and who want to formalize their contact information.


Gowalla was founded in 2007, 2 years before foursquare. Gowalla is still considered to be foursquare’s main competitor, even after the launch of Facebook Places in 2010. As of April 2011, Gowalla has one million users worldwide, information that was confirmed by their Media Relations Agency, Allison & Partners.

As is foursquare, Gowalla is available on various platforms such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Android, and in mobile version.

You will also need to check-in on Gowalla in order to get Pins (the equivalent of foursquare’s Badges). Gowalla gathers functions that are similar to their competitor, because it enables you to become a Duke (versus a Mayor), to comment your friends’ comings and goings, to post pictures and even add Highlights, which corresponds to foursquare’s Tips feature.

There are two things that make Gowalla more playful than its main competitor. First off are items available to us when we check-in. They are added to our passport that includes every visited place, found items, friends, etc.

At the beginning of December 2010, Gowalla announced the integration of their two main competitors, foursquare and Facebook Places, to their platform. Gowalla therefore allows you to announce your check-in, not only on its platform, but on Facebook Places, Twitter, foursquare and Tumblr. You can also add Tips and continue to win Badges on foursquare.

Gowalla seems to have fallen behind its main competitor, foursquare, especially since its latest update. The application simply mirrors foursquare. However, on a visual and design level, Gowalla is more advanced and is an attractive tool. But as a negative point, Gowalla is only available in English.

Facebook Places

In August 2010, Facebook launched its own geolocation-based application called Facebook Places. Unlike foursquare or Gowalla, Facebook Places is directly accessible from your phone’s Facebook application available to the social network’s 600 million users.

Thanks to Facebook Places, you can also mention where you are, what you’re doing there and tag your friends. However, you will not be able to send a notification of your check-in on other networks such as Twitter, for example.

At the beginning of November 2010, Facebook launched Deals, a feature that is similar to foursquare’s Specials. There are four types of Deals: individual, friend, loyalty and charity. This feature is not available in Canada yet, but you can subscribe to it on this page. These Deals are very much in the style of Groupon’s group purchases.


Yelp was founded in October 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons. They’ve received over 31 million unique visitors on their website in spring 2010. This tool is so popular that Yelp founders declined Google’s offer of purchase in December 2009.

Yelp is a geolocation-based tool that differs from foursquare, Gowalla or Facebook Places. It mostly acts as a tool that lets users come into contact with the best local stores. Users can give their opinion and recommend places they’ve been to, according to where they are. We can also easily find out what other users think and what their recommendations are thanks to Yelp.

Here is a full list of all worldwide geolocation-based social networking tools that we believe is very useful.

Do you use these tools? What are your thoughts on them? We look forward to receiving your comments!

Find Vortex Solution on these tools:



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