3 Questions About Location-Based Social Networks with Gowalla's Pia Arthur

Gowalla is at the nexus of two of the hottest topics in social media – geolocation and location-based applications. Pia Arthur, Communications Manager for Gowalla, responded to Social Times’ questions about Gowalla, how it compares with its competitors and what might be coming up next.

The list of mobile location-based social networks has grown. How does Gowalla see itself in the location-based universe?

Gowalla is a mobile and web service that gives people a new way to communicate with friends and family, share the places, trips, and events they experience, and to discover the new and extraordinary in the world around them.

Gowalla provides users an experience that goes beyond simply “checking in.” It allows you to receive a Stamp on your Passport and Gowalla Passport holders can then:

  • Add Photos and comments to further document the experience
  • Highlight meaningful events
  • Look for Spots, and if one doesn’t exist, it can be created on the service for all to see.
  • Create and add a Trip, or have the option to take the Trips from many of Gowalla’s partners including, Nike-LIVESTRONG, USA Today, National Geographic, CNN, TOMS, Four Seasons, and The Washington Post. Whether created by a Gowalla Passport holder or one of the service’s partners, a Trip is a list of curated places for a user to visit in order to earn the Pin for the given Trip.
  • Receive deals and curated content on a place with which Gowalla has a partnership. For example, in August, Gowalla and AT&T partnered with TOMS Shoes and their One for One movement. From August 16 through August 29, each Gowalla Passport Holder who checked-in on Gowalla at various technology and apparel retailers had the chance to win one of many prizes, including TOMS Shoes, AT&T Smartphones, and AT&T netbooks. One lucky Gowalla Passport holder received the grand prize-a trip to Argentina this fall with TOMS Shoes for the company’s One Millionth Pair Shoe Drop.
  • Like a travel passport, you can go back and review your Gowalla Passport Stamps to view photos, comments and recount an entire experience.

Twitter and Facebook have both launched their geolocation functionalities. How do you see Gowalla “interleaving” with the platforms of these established and (so far) non-competing social networking giants? Or maybe you don’t see that happening.

As one of the first location services to integrate with Facebook, Gowalla is pleased to be working with Facebook Places, and has seen record-breaking usage since its launch. Going forward, Gowalla Passport Holders will see stronger integrations of maps, custom Gowalla Passport Stamps, Photos, and comments from other users, within Facebook. The Gowalla user experience and interface will remain unchanged, but will bring additional value to Passport Holders who choose to connect with their Facebook accounts. Gowalla will remain unique and true to its vision and continue to deliver innovative features and content throughout its mobile applications and on the web. We offer a lot of added value and are focused on creating the best experience beyond the check-in.

Do you have a good crystal ball that shows what advances in geolocation and location-based applications will offer users as new benefits, features and ways of participating in their social networks?

Through the advent of GPS technology and mobile applications, location services are finding their way into multiple aspects of everyday life, both business and personal. You will definitely see more and more companies as well as individuals use location-based services for daily use, and Gowalla is continuing to focus on providing the best possible service to our community, whether business or personal. Our goal is to build features that go beyond the check-in and bring added value at the intersection of people and places.

Be sure to read the responses to these questions given to Social Times by Whrrl’s Jeff Holden, face2face’s Hameed Khan and Loopt’s Sam Altman.