Over the past decade, checking in to a business on social media has proven to be a fun way for people to share their local activities and promote bars, restaurants, or events they enjoy. It’s a relatively easy and lighthearted way to connect with your local surroundings, favorite businesses, and like-minded friends. That being said checking in has never been the most impressive or widely used feature on social media, and our team feels there is still a lot of opportunity for innovation and growth. When it comes to reliability, the social media giants don’t have a good method in place for verifying who’s checking in and when. Users can check in to a place anytime and anywhere- despite whether or not they may have actually visited the venue. As we met with bar owners in the early days of developing Yule Nightlife, one question kept coming up- “how do I know that people checking in are actually visiting my venue?!” We took these concerns into consideration and became determined to find a way to guarantee that people were actually visiting a venue in realtime.
When Foursquare first developed the check in system back in 2008, Yahoo and Facebook immediately took notice of the simple, yet ingenious feature. Foursquare infamously never took Facebook or Yahoo’s early buyout offers, and Facebook ultimately developed their own check in method in a matter of weeks following the offer. Since then checking in has undergone very little development, leaving the door wide open for innovation as far as we see it! After years of development, we are proud to showcase Yule Nightlife as the most reliable and cutting edge system for realtime check ins worldwide.
So what are we doing differently? Our entire platform uses location services to determine a user’s location at any time to provide them with the best search results for bars, nightclubs, and events nearby. Because we sometimes run campaigns to help bar owners attract more people to their venue, having reliable check in statistics is of paramount importance. We needed to find a way to confirm that people checking were in fact at the venue that very night– that’s no easy task and not a headache that Foursquare or Facebook developers had to consider when creating their pioneering systems! However we put our brains to work and our CTO and lead programmer Chris Waterbury developed a location based “certainty value” that is applied to every venue. This means that when a user checks in on Yule, the system quickly pings their location to determine whether or not they are truly within a given range of (and close proximity to) any given venue.
The Yule check in system took many weeks to develop and refine. If you’re imagining our founding team members circling parking lots and walking around popular bar strips with laptops in hand testing out certainty values and venue ranges you’re spot on! The result? Extremely reliable check in data that gets anonymously associated with a bar’s profile!
The original system was working great! Users were checking in and demographic information was being collected and displayed on profiles at a decent rate. However, the life of a tech startup is such that coming up with one innovative feature can result in the need to innovate even further to make the first feature meaningful and important! People were checking in, but that was the end of the story. After a user checked in there was no follow up, no socialization. In an effort to encourage more socialization in our app we began sending notifications to a user’s friends when they successfully checked into a venue. This is a particularly fun and interesting feature, especially if you know a friend is traveling and visiting unique places or if you get separated from your friends while bar hopping and are wondering where they’ve ended up.
I’ve written on this subject in more detail in a previous blog post, suffice to say that this feature has significantly helped with app user retention and engagement. By utilizing location services with a high degree of specificity (the certainty value), Yule is able to provide venue owners and promoters irrefutable statistics with detailed demographic information better than our competitors- all of which is collected in realtime! We are excited to see the continued use of such features with Yule’s growing user base, and will continue to experiment with additional features as the platform matures.