Check in to . . . Everything?

If you would have asked me in January what the buzzword of 2010 would be as it relates to social media, I would have said “location.” I likely would now be considered wrong for being a bit shortsighted. So, with it now being August, let me give you what I think is the buzzword for 2010: “check-in.”
 
By now, readers of this blog should know all about Foursquare, the mobile app that lets you check in to real-life locations like retailers, gas stations, bars, restaurants and more to unlock discounts, virtual badges and more. You might also be aware that Facebook recently launched their own initiative called Facebook Places; for right now, all you can do is check in to locations without any incentive, unless “falsely” tagging friends in that location with you is fun for you.
 
There’s also a rise in applications that allow you to check in to entertainment properties like TV shows, movies, video games, even TOPICS. The three main applications out there right now are GetGlue, Miso and Philo.
 
GetGlue allows you to check in to TV shows, music, movies, books, video games and more; most of the other ones, only support TV shows and movies. GetGlue also allows you to rate all the things you check in to, and you earn “stickers” for doing certain things. The stickers are very similar to the badges from Foursquare, but you can actually request them to mail you physical copies of the stickers. While that might sound inconsequential at first, if you’re able to get the Weeds or True Blood sticker, and you’re a huge fan of either show, that’s a pretty big deal — GetGlue has partnered with a number of high-profile entertainment brands including Showtime, Warner Bros, etc to make those happen. The stickers are obviously a source of revenue from those brands, but GetGlue also makes money when users click through from the site and app to buy the properties they’re checking into.
 
Miso is very similar to GetGlue in that you can check in to TV shows and movies, and they have a number of unique branded partnerships too — for instance, back in March, you could earn a badge for checking into the movie Hot Tub Time Machine. (Yes, they call them badges. GetGlue calls them stickers.)
 
Philo is the third one, and from what I’ve seen, doesn’t get the kind of online and even traditional media coverage that GetGlue and Miso have gotten to date. I’ve only had a chance to try GetGlue and Miso thus far, so I can’t comment too much on Philo.
 
In addition, since very few of my friends use GetGlue and Miso (compared to Foursquare), my impressions thus far are a little mixed: I get it because I watch a lot of TV shows and what not, but I don’t yet understand why using these apps is better than me just saying what I’m watching on Twitter and Facebook like I used to do.
 
With all three apps, you can share check-ins with your Twitter and Facebook friends, though I’ve found most friends of mine don’t want me to do that on EVERY show I watch — that would be too many. I just do it on the big shows like Mad Men, Burn Notice, etc.
 
All three apps can be downloaded on iPhone and/or Android devices, or accessed via the Web on your smartphone or desktop. Check out their individual Web sites to learn more.
 
Will one of these three apps, or another one yet to be discovered, capture the kind of consumer interest and media interest Foursquare has? It definitely remains to be seen.
 
The problem is how to provide real-world incentives (like discounts at retailers) the way Foursquare has. Can you give someone a free movie ticket if they check in to a similar TV show? And, if so, how do you prove that they actually ARE watching that TV show — Foursquare checks your GPS signal to make sure you’re not cheating, but there’s no way for GetGlue, Miso or Philo to do that. And there never can be.
 
Either way, an interesting space to watch and I’ll definitely be checking in quite a bit once the Fall TV season starts. . .

Alan has been with Ketchum for more than five years. Follow him on Twitter at @adanzis if you want rare insights about PR and social media, and tons of stuff about video games, technology and other sci-fi and nerdy things.