August 16, 2011

Using Gowalla to Win Her Heart.

Reading time: 3 min

I’ll admit, I’m a little addicted to location-based social networks. Most of the time I’m checking into Gowalla, Foursquare or Yelp as well as Foodspotting when eating out. I love trying out the latest ones and seeing what different functionality they bring.

The use of location-based social networks is growing, in fact, its been on a steady increase in the past few years. Foursquare recently hit 10 million users and Gowalla is at a million last I heard. At its basic form, there a great way to keep track of what your friends are up to. But, have you ever thought about using these social networks to enhance your dates? Using networks like Gowalla & Foursquare on dates can actually create a really fun date experience. Especially when you’re just getting to know one another.

Here’s how I used Gowalla to turn a regular date into a memorable one which I have to admit, totally impressed the object of my desire.

First  – Obviously, make sure you and your date use Gowalla and that you’re connected with each other.

Second – Plan your date by figuring out ahead of time where you will be going. For example, if you’re planning a leisure walk around a neighborhood I suggest picking and choosing spots you’ve been too before. This can be anything from retail shops, parks, coffee shops or you can create your own spot just for the occasion.

Once you’ve picked spots you’d like to take your date, look them up online on or via the mobile app. Gowalla has a nifty option that allows users to set personal messages to friends (a function that is surprisingly not available on Foursquare.). These messages will only be visible to the friend you choose and only when they check into the place you’ve chosen. By know, you know where I’m going with this. In each place, place a message and make sure its dedicated only to your date. If you don’t know what to say, just put down light-hearted & simple messages, talk about what the place means to you or an experience you’ve had. If you’ve never been to the place, say that you’re happy to discover it for the first time with your date.

Be warned that Gowalla sends an email to the person you’ve dedicated the message to every time you enter a new message. Gowalla doesn’t specifically send over the information you just entered, just a notice letting them know that there’s a message waiting for them. I learned the hard way which ruined the surprise, I’ve checked and I don’t think there’s an option to turn those notices off.

My date was a walking date in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood, for this I planned over a dozen stops. I didn’t think we would hit every one but I thought it would be a good idea to cover my bases.

The resulting date lasted just over 4 hours because my date was so impressed by all the work I did she wanted to check into as many places as possible. More importantly, the date went so well that it resulted in several follow-up dates and an amazing relationship. In fact, my girlfriend now tells this story to all her friends who are often green with envy.

I’m not kidding myself, I know that Gowalla isn’t the reason things worked. Fundamentally what made it an amazing and unforgettable day was because my date saw that I made a real effort to plan it and I used insights on what I knew about her to do it.

That said, I think this example could be used in many other occasions like a night out with friends, a way to enhance a simple movie date or even help friends from out-of-town discover the city. I’d love to hear other creative ways people have used these social networks to enhance our lives. Actually, that’s mainly for me because I’ve raised the bar so high I’m having a hard time coming up with a better idea for date night!

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