Location, Location, Location: Foursquare vs. Gowalla

Location, Location, Location: Foursquare vs. Gowalla Adam Schoenfeld Blogger Extraordinaire Simply Measured

Location-based services are hot. The social media world is watching as consumer adoption grows, local marketing campaigns launch, and services compete for this new market. Competition has largely focused on Foursquare vs. Gowalla. In the blue shorts out of New York City, we have Foursquare. The established leader is claiming over 700,000 check-ins per day as of late May and on track to break 1 million. In the orange shorts out of Austin, Texas, we have Gowalla. A newer arrival to the space, but a favorite among early adopters and tech enthusiasts.

Amongst all the chatter, we looked to put some data around the location battle. We used RowFeeder to track twitter check-ins for Foursquare and Gowalla by capturing tweets with “4sq.com” or “gowal.la.” This gave us a sample of check-in data to get dirty with. We broke down the location-based battle by geography, engagement, and general velocity. Our analysis is based on a 1 week sample of Tweeted check-ins.

3G Coverage Check-in Coverage: Foursquare has the Network

We used our location normalization feature to map Twitter users by location. Foursquare has an impressive national reach with concentration in major population centers. Gowalla’s coverage is much lighter across the country, but holds a strong position in Austin, Dallas, and the Bay Area. Even in Austin, Gowalla’s top market, Foursquare had 132% more check-ins in our sample.

User Engagement: Foursquare Wins on Frequency

It appears that Foursquare users are more avid about checking in. In our 1 week sample, 37% of Foursquare users had more than 5 check-ins compared to just 24% of Gowalla users.

Total Velocity: Foursquare Dominates

Both services saw a slight increase in activity on Friday and Saturday with steady volume throughout the week. Relatively speaking, Foursquare dominates. Our sample had an average of 150,000+ Foursquare check-ins per day relative to just shy of 7,000 Gowalla check-ins.
Foursquare has stated publicly that they generate ~700,000 check-ins per day. Therefore, our sample shows that ~21% of check-ins are shared on Twitter — an impressive pass-through rate.

Adam Schoenfeld

Adam is the Co-Founder and VP of Strategy at Simply Measured. In 2010 (aka the dark ages of social marketing), Adam joined Damon Cortesi and Aviel Ginzburg to found "Untitled Startup, Inc" with the goal of helping marketers and analysts use social data to do their best work. The company quickly evolved to become Simply Measured and the trusted leader in social analytics. Outside of Simply Measured, Adam is a golfer, breakfast enthusiast, and long-time data geek.