One of the comments made at The Conversation by a panelist or moderator when talking about the use of location awareness apps like Foursquare or Gowalla was that there was a good amount of ego involved in feeling that everyone needed to know where you were and what you were doing.
In a sense that’s true – indeed it’s true of just about all status network usage – but there are other things going on as well.
Saying that you’ve checked in at this restaurant or wherever and broadcasting that to the friends you’ve built up on that specific network as well as occasionally to your broader networks on Twitter or Facebook becomes part of an activity we’re all engaged in: Building our public personas around not only activities but also brand affiliation. So we’re not only broadcasting that we’re eating out but that we’ve decided this restaurant is one that we would like our friends to associate us with.
But there’s also a second layer to the situation. Anytime there’s competition for tools in a market there’s also the broadcast of which tool a user had chosen to use. So if someone uses Foursquare to say they’re at Billy Goat’s Tavern that person is saying they enjoy cheeseburgers with beer and that they’ve found Foursquare to be the kind of tool they like to use. They’ve made a choice to broadcast their affiliation with both.
So yeah, there’s more than a little ego involved but there’s also the continued building of our brand personas that are happening and that’s something that means brands and marketers who are trying to build strategies that involve location-awareness services need to take that mentality into account when doing so.