whrrl: geosocial graduations, building societies and more.

If not for the piece I wrote on geosocial media for the January issue of CASE Currents, I may not have checked out Whrrl. It’s not as well-known as the likes of Facebook and Foursquare but, in some ways, it holds as much promise as any location-based platform.

Whrrl allows you to do all the things we’ve come to expect of geosocial apps, such as check in, receive mysterious points and leave metadata (in this case, a Note). You can add photos as well, although this feature is not as novel as it was when I wrote the initial geosocial blog series. It also has perhaps the cleanest, most intuitive interface of any location-based service.

But one feature I love is the Society function that allows you to find, connect and interact with those whose checkins show similar interests … i.e. coffeeshops, live music, etc. within a geospatial construct. Unlike most geosocial apps, Whrrl’s Society feature actively promotes the possibility of expanding one’s network.

I also like the Ideas tab, a memo-like function that allows you to record thoughts on things you’d like to do in these spaces (“try the Al Roker sub,” “check out the organic vegetable section,” “look into renting kayaks”). This links users more tightly with spaces and real-life activities. (There’s also the Fun Fact, which I haven’t figured out yet.)

But one of the coolest things (as mentioned in the January CASE magazine article) is how St. Edward’s University in Texas used Whrrl to create, as the college’s director of communication, Mischelle Diaz termed it, the first “socially-connected graduation ceremony” last year. For its 125th anniversary, St. Edward’s partnered with Whrrl to create an additional level of connectivity and excitement to the event.

“With Whrrl, we were able to capture real-time texts and photo submissions from graduates and other audience members,” Diaz said. “This allowed graduates and their families to see photos and texts from everyone at the event, not just the photos they were able to take themselves.”

They faced the challenge of Whrrl’s low user base — its main current drawback for any user — by using various campus communication and social-media channels, pitches to student and regional media as well as a pre-graduation Happy Hour signup event. They focused less on the technology (shiny object) and more on, as Diaz called it, “a significant life experience” and “recording a moment of history for the university.” Putting people and goals in front of technology! How excellent.

“Given this was our first attempt at using social media at such a large event, live, in such a visible way, we were very pleased,” Diaz said. “We took our cues about the success of the project from the audience reactions during the live slide show. There was lots of laughter and enthusiasm. After the event we did more Facebook posts with links to the Whrrl slide show, which is still accessible.”

If, as SCVNGR’s Jeffrey Kirchick said on last weekend’s HigherEdLive, the future of geosocial is not merely checking in, but in connecting and creating memorable experiences, then the underdog Whrrl may yet become more of a destination for users.

5 Comments

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5 responses to “whrrl: geosocial graduations, building societies and more.

  1. Sounds like an interesting service. Maybe I’ll give it a … whirl. (Sorry.)

    Can you believe I still haven’t read my January issue of Currents? It’s in a “to-read” folder (along with the February issue). Normally I’d skim it and toss it aside but I do want to read what you have to say (along with Rachel Reuben and J.D. Ross — a real Murderer’s Row of social media experts in that edition). And just last week, the March issue arrived.

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention whrrl: geosocial graduations, building societies and more. | InsideTimsHead -- Topsy.com

  3. Hi Tim, thanks for the awesome review. I’m so glad to see you are digging Whrrl Societies – it truly separates our service from others in the space. I’d also be curious to see what you think about our personalized recommendations of places to go and things to do which is based on your check ins, social graph, passions and physical world activity. Our goal is to get you trying new things you otherwise wouldn’t know about.🙂

    My email is heather (at) pelago.com if you ever want to email with questions or feedback. Again, we appreciate it!

    Heather

  4. Tim Nekritz

    ANDREW: I haven’t read some of those certainly awesome articles either. My schedule is wack lately, but I know I’m not alone.

    HEATHER: Thanks for the note! I haven’t had time to do a lot with Whrrl and thus see the social graph and activity logarithms kick in, but it all sounds quite neat. Here’s hoping more people discover your community!

  5. Pingback: the fall of whrrl and the future of geosocial. | InsideTimsHead

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