Week 5 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Esther Cho

A Conversation with Heather Meeker of Whrrl.com

By UCLA X425 Student Esther Cho

Heather Meeker from Whrrl (@HeatherMeeker) came to class to discuss the benefits of geolocation social media. For those who are not familiar with geolocation, it is anything that deals with sharing information about someone’s physical location on a social media platform such as Whrrl or Foursquare. Currently, geolocation is gaining momentum as a new outlet for possible audience and consumer engagement to promote one’s brand or products.

Heather pointed out some key differences from Foursquare that Whrrl offers for users and companies interested in increasing brand awareness. After “checking-in” at least twice, the user becomes a part of a “society,” which is a group of people who also checked-in to that location at least twice. This allows the user an opportunity to expand their own network by meeting people who like the same locations. For the user like me who values a little bit more privacy, there are options to limit check-in visibility to friends only.

From a person’s physical location, recommendations are also floated to the user’s attention. That data is fed from an amalgam of other users’ inputs and common interests similar to Amazon.com’s relevancy scaling. But instead of relevant products, the user receives relevant locations recommended from friends or from general user data. Each recommendation can be ignored, which moves it lower on the priority rung, or saved for later, in which a reminder is sent out.

Learning about the details of geolocation from someone who works for Whrrl was really interesting for someone like me who has yet to adopt geolocation services. From a marketing standpoint, I can see how it would be useful to promote products and services, especially cross-promotional products. But on a personal level, there isn’t yet enough utility for me to engage actively with geolocation services. Still, Heather was a wonderful and engaging speaker. I definitely walked away with more know-how about geolocation.

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