As location-based apps started rolling out and making their way, I constantly asked myself a few questions…
What’s the point?
Why would I want people to know where I am?
Why would people care?
Then I started working on projects through Collective Bias – utilizing Whrrl to create slide-show stories about shopping missions that I would go on. I found it a fascinating way to tell and share an experience and it provided variety for my readers. Aside from the ability to create these stories, there were other layers to Whrrl. My favorite… when you checked in at certain locations, you had a chance to win prizes or in some cases, just get free stuff.
So I started checking in, usually only on Whrrl – mostly privately – to take advantage of the offers. I remember so vividly one day winning $5 in free gas from MurphyUSA. They often had coupons for free drinks or candy but ran contests as well, so I checked in there whenever possible. That particular day, DH was with me and he was surprised to see what I had won. He downloaded the Whrrl app on the spot, along with Foursquare, and so began our new appreciation for the power of the check-in.
When the Whrrl app closed, I wasn’t sure what would become of check-ins for the place that made me see the light – Murphy. The other day, I found out they switched to Foursquare. As I type this, a Foursquare check-in at MurphyUSA locations will net you a FREE pack of Stride Winterblue gum EVERY TIME YOU CHECK IN. Aside from that, they also offer $2 off a $20 purchase EVERY TIME YOU CHECK IN. How many gas stations do you know are offering discounts on gas, let alone on every visit? For those of you who are not familiar with MurphyUSA, you should be if there’s one in your area. Their prices (at least here) are cheaper than all the stations around them except Sam’s Club. With the $2 off $20 coupon from checking in, I’m sure they probably even have Sam’s Club beat.
So for those of you who are already using Foursquare… start checking in at Murphy. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Foursquare, here’s a tutorial on how to check-in so you can enjoy these freebies and savings also. Please note that I’m using an iPhone. I don’t know if other apps are set up the same way but I’m sure they are all very similar.
When you arrive at a destination where you want to check in, load the Foursquare application onto your phone, iPad or other mobile device. Foursquare is a location-based application so it is necessary that your phone settings to have location services set as enabled for this application to work.
There are 5 sections indicated on the bottom of the screen. “Friends” “Places” “Explore” “To-Do List” and your profile page. The focus of this tutorial is getting you checked in so you can take advantage of the free stuff and discounts. The only tab needed to do that is “Places”.
Click the tab that says “Places” and it will bring up a list of all places near where you are. Since some locations go by multiple names – ie Walmart, Wal-Mart, Walmart Supercenter, etc – you may find locations in the database more than once. In my case, the Murphy location shows up as “Murphy” and “MurphyUSA”. Does it make a difference which you check-in to? Absolutely! One has specials and the other doesn’t.
In some instances, such as a high-development area, it is easiest to just type part of the location name. In this screenshot, you can see the two Murphy options, both at the same address. One is clearly marked with the bright orange “SPECIAL” banner. Click that.
It will load a new page showing the location and address, a large green “CHECK IN HERE” button and miscellaneous information about the mayor, who is checked in, etc. Confirm that it is the correct location then tap the “CHECK IN HERE” button.
On the next screen, you can personalize your check-in by adding a photo, saying something about the location or why you are there as well as specify if you want share it with others. I seldom bother with anything on that page but as you can see from the side-by-side screen shots, I typed in a note about why I was there today. Once you’re done personalizing and deciding whether to share, just click the “CHECK IN HERE” button and move along.
That’s it. Now you’re checked in. Once you get the hang of it, all those screens up to this point will likely just fly by in seconds. This next part is what you’ve been waiting for. You’ve finally made it to the point of being able to claim the actual specials. The screen clearly tells you what you need to do to cash in. In other words, click where it says “Tap to redeem”
The instructions show up next so keep your phone handy. In the case of MurphyUSA, you need to go to the cashier to redeem. So, while you’re standing at the pump (You are still at your car, right?) press the “Press here to Pay Cashier” button. Here in Iowa, they activate the pump and we pump until we’re done. I recall the days of living in California where you had to tell them how much you planned to pump, then pay first. One of the joys of the Midwest.. trust.
With your mobile device in hand, head off and find the cashier. Show the message that was displayed on the screen. If the redemption code disappeared (which it does if you have to wait in line long) just hit the refresh button in the upper right corner. The instructions tell the cashier what code to punch in to the register. Unfortunately, the code is a bit shortened. For seasoned cashiers, they know to add six zeros to the front of the number provided by Foursquare. Blake, the cashier from my local station asked why Foursquare doesn’t just add a scannable barcode like Whrrl did. Good question, Blake. If your cashier is new to this promotion, when you show them your phone, just let them know that it goes through easier if they punch six zeros first. They’ll probably try it a few time on their own before taking your suggestion, but that’s okay. Our Murphy cashiers are always friendly.
When the cashier is done… Ta-dah! Instant savings just for checking in. It’s so easy, it’s free and you save money. So totally worth it.While you are there, see if there are other promotions. As I said before, we snagged a free pack of gum as a bonus.
Wondering if there’s a Murphy station near you? Visit their website for a list of locations. (There’s also a Murphy app that will tell you locations and more!) Love the idea of getting free stuff from them? In addition to their promotions on foursquare, they also offer coupons via their e-offers that come in your email AND additional coupons via Facebook.