Last week was Mashable Media Summit 2010, an all day event sponsored by Mashable and CNN in honor of Internet Week New York. Here is a recap in case you missed it. One of my favorite interviews was between Mashable’s Editor-in-Chief Adam Ostrow and Foursquare’s Founder and CEO Dennis Crowley, thus inspiring my post this week.


Many of you already know about Foursquare, but for those of you who are slightly behind the location based social networking trend, let me fill you in. Location based social networking utilizes mobile GPS technology to encourage interaction between people and local businesses while rewarding users. According to the Foursquare site, it is a “cross between a friend-finder, a social city-guide and a game that rewards you for doing interesting things. Foursquare aims to build things to not only help you keep up with the places your friends go, but that encourage you to discover new places and challenge you to explore your neighborhood in new ways.”

Foursquare is not the only social networking platform of its kind; other popular location based social networks include Gowalla, Yelp, Brightkite, and Loopt. So which one is the best? I came across a few surveys that may be helpful in determining which service offers the best experience. In week 18 of Mashable’s weekly Web Faceoff series, Foursquare was pinned up against Yelp and Gowalla. The results? Foursquare won with 1182 votes, Yelp came in second with 661 votes, Gowalla in third with 509 votes, and 203 votes were tied.

Another study conducted by uTest surveyed respondents about their experiences with Foursquare, Gowalla, and Brightkite. The survey asked respondents to report bugs and answer questions related to six attributes: ease-of-use, location accuracy, opportunity to earn deals, status features, friend connectivity, and social media integration. In terms of bugs, Foursquare had the least with 177 reported, Gowalla in second with 316, and 377 for Brightkite. Respondents stated the top three important attributes of a location based social networking service are easy-of-use, location accuracy, and connectivity with friends. How did the results pan out? Foursquare was in first place for all attributes except location accuracy, where Gowalla won the vote. Gowalla mostly received second place, and Brightkite was the least favorite coming in third four out of six times.

One more interesting study I found covered a location war between Foursquare and Gowalla at this year’s South by Southwest (SXSW) conference. Attendees of the music festival used these location based social networking platforms to check-in to festival areas, find out where friends were, gain points and special badges, and leave tips. Social analytics platform Viralheat found that Foursquare had the most social mentions and gained the most users over the course of SXSW.

In my exploration of location based social networking it seems users prefer Foursquare. After signing up and testing out Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and Brightkite, my favorite is definitely Foursquare; Gowalla was too intricate, Yelp didn’t give any rewards, and Brightkite was just plain confusing. I now have six mayorships and seven badges on Foursquare, including the Super User Badge! Now I wish I could get more friends to join me (some of them think I’m crazy).

Do you think location based social networking is just a fad? It is useful, fun, weird? What is your favorite platform, Foursquare, Gowalla, Yelp, and why? Let us know in the comment section, we love hearing from everyone! Stay tuned for next week’s blog post; I’ll be exploring how brands are already using Foursquare deals!