Week 5 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Kathleen Bracken

A Conversation with Heather Meeker of Whrrl.com

By UCLA X425 Student Kathleen Bracken

“Does your head spin on a daily basis?”

Heather Meeker didn’t pause before answering the student’s question with an emphatic “Yes!”

Such is the workload Heather genuinely seems to embrace in her role as Director of Marketing and PR for WHRRL.

Speaking to an engaged classroom of students at UCLA Extension’s course on Best Practices in Social Media, Ms. Meeker shared her expertise in “Geolocation” – defined as a mobile application that allows the user to tell others where they are and what they are doing there.

Admittedly, I’ve known very little about “Location Apps” but I came away from Meeker’s lecture with an appreciation of how they can be very effective in creating awareness for a brand. What sets WHRRL apart from competitors GOWALLA and FOURSQUARE is it’s spontaneity – it will tell the user things to do that are near where they are at that moment. Users join “societies” that connect them with other members who share the same passions, sharing new ideas and hot spots. The “societies” create real-time word-of-mouth and build buzz for featured brands.

For the client, Ms. Meeker says the key to success is building a promotion that is fun and offers an immediate reward. One success story she related was a gasoline station chain in the mid-west that gave away free gas to users who “checked in” on their mobile phones.

For everyone involved, Geolocation is a brave new world. WHRRL works closely with clients to create ideas that are effective, sometimes starting small to test the fit of a brand with the new application.

Early evidence shows that geolocation apps can effectively build both brand awareness and an edge over the competition. Heather Meeker has her work cut out for her, but to this student, she’s more than up for the challenge.

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