Check-ins May Have Peaked but Location-Sharing Is Growing

The Pew Research Center has released new data on mobile use of location-related services and features. It focuses on maps/directions/local search apps, check-ins and geo-tagging of social media posts.

The chart below compares use of location-based services (broadly defined) with the use of what it calls “geosocial services” — essentially apps that allow users to check-in to places.

Use of location based apps/services vs. checking-in:

LBS vs check-ins

As Foursquare has moved away from focusing on check-ins and other check-in apps have been acquired (e.g., Gowalla) or otherwise exited the market checking-in appears to be in decline. However location sharing is not.

Users will continue share location or “check in” for incentives (rewards, coupons, etc.). Indeed, indoor location and related advertising will bring a new era of checking-in but for very clear and specific reasons. As a habitual, unmotivated behavior check-ins have peaked and are on the way out.

Among sites used to check-in, the survey (with a very small sample) found Facebook was the top app, followed by Foursquare and Google+ (kind of surprisingly).

Use of check-in services

Another use of location is for geotaging of social media posts. In contrast to checking-in, that is on the upswing.

Pew found that 30% of its respondents have set up automated location tagging on at least one of their social media accounts. This is up from 14% in 2011. By comparison 16% of teens “said they set up their profile or account so that it automatically includes their location in posts.”

Mobile-location has emerged as a sensitive piece of personal information that users clearly want to control. An earlier Pew survey explored the question of location in the context of a larger survey on privacy. It found that 70% of respondents said it was somewhat or very important that they be able to control who gains access to their location information.

Screen Shot 2013-09-12 at 8.39.10 AM

At the Place Conference next month we’ll have a featured session in which we discuss the subject of indoor location and consumer privacy with Laura Berger, Senior Attorney, Division of Privacy and Identity Protection, Federal Trade Commission and Jules Polonetsky, Executive Director & Co-chairman, Future of Privacy Forum.

Back to the subject of check-ins. Do you agree with that this survey appears to say: check-ins are on the way out? Will the check-in survive and if so in what kind of context or scenario?

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One Response to “Check-ins May Have Peaked but Location-Sharing Is Growing”

  1. The Convergences of Check-in and Check-out – an emerging trend? | Local Social Summit says at

    […] growing.” Greg Sterling (btw – who will speaking at LSS’13 in November) gives a good analysis on his blog. The key table from the Pew report (I know, US data – we will look for a similar UK data […]

  2. Real-Time Branding; Checking Out says at

    […] There is a difference between check-ins and location sharing — one is declining and the other is rising. Screenwerk looked at the difference and found that while people are no longer checking in with services like Foursquare, they are still sharing their location on social media. Facebook is at the top for location sharing, and a Pew study found that 30% of people have set up automatic location tagging. Read more. […]

  3. Real-Time Branding; Checking Out « Lighthouse Digital says at

    […] There is a difference between check-ins and location sharing — one is declining and the other is rising. Screenwerk looked at the difference and found that while people are no longer checking in with services like Foursquare, they are still sharing their location on social media. Facebook is at the top for location sharing, and a Pew study found that 30% of people have set up automatic location tagging. Read more. […]

  4. Crystal says at

    Check-Ins seem to be on the way out because they are, simply put, a hassle to do, whereas location sharing is mindless- typically because you can just leave the app “on.” Interestingly, the apps that seem to be on the rise are ones that provide “utility” and the ones focused socially seem to be stagnating. Facebook check ins are down but apps like life360 (amazing, btw) and Glympse (also very good) are just taking off.

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