More Numbers: foursquare vs Facebook Places vs Gowalla at WVU

After I posted an article about foursquare and its use at West Virginia University, Matt Klawitter (@MattKlawitterWU) asked me on Twitter, "How does this compare to other check-in data — do you use others such as FB?" Well, the only geo-location service that we actively advertise is foursquare but, after that question, I was curious how it matched up against a possible behemoth like Facebook Places and one service that is popular with a co-worker, Gowalla.

The Data

I took the top nine official foursquare venues at WVU and compared them against check-in data totals that I found by browsing the search results in both Facebook and Gowalla. The caveats:

  • This is not meant to be completely scientific as I'm doing this quickly on a lark.
  • Both Facebook Places and Gowalla have multiple entries for a few locations. I decided just to take the best performing entry and use its numbers for the chart.
  • The time periods for collecting the data could be different. For example, Facebook Places hasn't been around as long as foursquare so foursquare could and probably does have a natural lead. Facebook Places launched in August which is well before we actively advertised foursquare on campus so I don't think it has that much of an advantage.
  • The Health Sciences Center would be a top nine foursquare venue but I left it out because it covers a heck of a lot of locations under one umbrella.

The Results

Below are two charts comparing check-ins at select WVU locations between foursquare, Facebook Places and Gowalla.

Check-in Totals comparison of three geo-social services at WVU

Comparing performance of three geo-social services at WVU

While the charts are useful I figured I'd also share the data just in case.

Location foursquare Facebook Places Gowalla
Mountainlair 4,239 994 42
Coliseum 1,484 2,955 56
Downtown Library 1,457 501 21
Martin Hall 1,324 42 7
Creative Arts Center 1,303 37 36
Mountaineer Field 1,269 1,209 39
Clark Hall 1,255 8
Student Recreation Center 1,149 759 28
Brooks Hall 1,011 260
Total 14,491 6,757 237

Facebook Places Dominates the Coliseum but foursquare Rules Overall

foursquare, with** double the check-ins that Facebook Places** has at these venues, obviously takes the top geo-social network on campus. Gowalla is basically non-existent on our campus with less than 2% of the check-ins that foursquare has at the top venues.

Probably the most interesting data-points are the athletic venues. They're the only ones that have Facebook Places either even or beating, rather handily in the case of the Coliseum, foursquare.  If I were able to look at the demographic data for Facebook Places I'd be curious to see if the check-ins tend to skew to an older population. But that's purely a hypothesis even if it might be, on the face of it, a reasonable one. See Tricia's comment about WVU Athletics using Facebook Places at our athletic venues.

Any other ideas on why our athletic venues might prove so popular on Facebook Places when no where else on campus, at least when comparing against the top foursquare locations, generates that much interest?

And hopefully this short post answered Matt's question.

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