Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who Is Checking In, Scanning Or Staying Home? Or, not.

One of the best things about having an intern is that you have a constant stream of feedback about what the next generation is thinking, doing, liking and not liking. We call Mikal "Our Modelesque Millenial", not only could he be on a catwalk but he is also a senior at Babson, with an analytical mind, sharp eye and the sense of humor it takes to survive. We focused-group a bunch of young people to curate their cache on mobile apps but we like Mikal's quote best: "I don't use check-in or place review apps at all, only when I use SCVNGR with you at events. So my favorite social media app would have to be Facebook."

The echo-boom echoed this over and over again: They don't check-in. They text and Facebook.

Marc H of Boston Hidden Restaurants, a very popular local blog for years now, has recently been considering dipping a toe into location-based apps. He is still on the fence, however, and shared his thoughts on why he may NOT take the plunge.

"I haven't decided for sure whether I will or not, but if I don't, it may be because:
- Not sure how it can help the Boston's Hidden Restaurants site.
- Not crazy about letting people know exactly where I am.
- Really don't know if there are any uses for it other than discounts, which I don't really care about."

While not caring about discounts is a new one on us, the fear of disclosing one's location is pervasive. The argument most commonly heard against using a location-based app is: "They will come and rob my house." We set out to find an incident where the Internet was used to rob a home by following it's owner/occupant on a social media app. We were not able to find one - anywhere in the world! If anyone has information to dispel the myth, please let us know. We'd love to carry that story! In the meantime, the idea that petty criminals are using the hi tech "follow to rob you" modus operandi seems specious, at best. Just because I am out dining on five courses and tweeting about it doesn't mean that someone is not at my home, fully weaponed.

Lastly, we heard from our friend and colleague Jacqueline Church, a well-known, Boston-area food author and blogger of The Leather District Gourmet. Jackie was a panelist at a full day seminar in Boston on food blogging called TechMunch recently. The event was attended by over 100 participants. including TBF. She spoke on new trends in food, including the use of QR Codes. Her name badge and business cards proudly displayed a QR Code in easily-scannable proportions. She reported later that nary a scan was had through the entire event. And this was a tech conference! Is it just a clever fad or is being way ahead of the curve a very lonely place, as we have often found? Even my most ardent, die-hard iPhone-using friends have yet to add a scanning app, never mind use it on a regular basis. Are we just hedging our bets on a future squiggle of a trend? All we can say is that, although we seem to write about QR Codes in this blog more than any other local food blog, we can count our scans on one hand.

What do you think?


  1. Thanks for the shout out. A few follow on thoughts:
    1) I use the QR code to effortlessly load someone's contact data into system
    2) I wish more people had them on their cards
    3) I used the QR code as an example, to urge people to innovate, to try out new ways to offer value (it was, as you point out, a TECH conference)
    4) I used the app on my iPhone months ago at a wine tasting to scan it on a wine label and got tons of info on the winery, the harvest, etc. Led directly to the website. I think the value of that is overlooked by marketers (remember the Naked Wine discussion?) and consumers alike.

    Lastly, regarding location based apps and crime, one thing people underestimate is that the whereabouts or patterns they share are not only open to petty thieves, but to much more dangerous criminals like pedophiles.

    People should try new technology but also be wise about adopting mindlessly every new thing that comes down the pike.

  2. The wine bottle qr code scan is the best example of people who want more info and have the technology to get it. I don't think any criminals, however, are as ahead of the curve as we are. Maybe in the future. I also predict that strictly location based apps are on the decline. Again, that may change in the future. The best app of all we reviewed was LevelUp, which provides value to both merchants AND consumers. They get loyalty, I get rewarded for it. It's an age-old tradition. They found a way to make it work in the techosphere.