Whrrl on YouTube
Whrrl is a community of people who are discovering the world around them and building focused communities that recommend and discover places together. Whrrl enables people to checkin, make a list of things they want to do locally, and join affinity groups of people with similar interests. The goal is to motivate users through game mechanics and rewards to drive real-world purchases and discovery of local businesses.
Businesses participate in Whrrl by offering prizes to people who checkin to their locations. The more influence you have in a community or, as Whrrl calls them, Societies, the more chances you have of winning a local reward.
The company has had some interesting success. Their first rewards partner was Murphy USA, a gas and convenience store located at Walmart that offered $50 worth of free gas and asked users to promote it to their social networks. In a survey it was found that 84% of users visited Murphy USA for the first time or chose to visit because of a rewards program. That proves the power of game mechanics and rewards works for motivating real-world discovery.
At SXSW, we tried Whrrl as they were being promoted at the Klout event. From a BlackBerry user perspective, the website wasn’t great. Grabbing location via the web is a little slow and the whole checkin and discovery process takes quite a long time. On an iPhone or Android device, the location and checkin process is probably much smoother. Another issue with the service is that the checkin and society joining process requires quite a bit of user input. Checkin services are going to have to adopt to more of a background process because it starts to become a bit of a chore if you have to spend 3 minutes every time you want to register that you’ve checkedin somewhere. Society joining could be automatic based on preferences, and checkingin could be easier, albeit maybe battery draining, with a more passive “we’ve noticed you’re close to this venue which you checkin to a lot. Are you here?”.
Check out Whrrl for yourself and let us know what you think. You can head over to their site and grab it for all three platforms: iPhone, Android and BlackBerry (web version).