SCVNGR: The Hunt for the Latest in Social Media

For so many years, social media just meant Facebook, Twitter, and by some definitions, YouTube. With the popularization of smartphones (here’s looking at you, Apple!), social media has truly become mobile, opening the doors for new social channels.

I’m a pretty tech savvy girl, so when it comes to anything social or technological, I like to be on the forefront.  When I found out that my favorite TV show Dexter (please, no judgment) was running a social media/smartphone scavenger hunt in Seattle using an application called SCVNGR, I had to try it out.

For the purposes of this entry, I’m going to mostly talk about SCVNGR. I’ll come back and do a separate entry about the Dexter scavenger hunt a bit later (and I swear it’s not just because I want to post pictures of Dexter hottie Michael C. Hall) and put everything into a little more context.

On the surface, SCVNGR is pretty similar to the popular smartphone app Four Square. Meaning, you can “check into” different places using your phone’s GPS. Once you check in, you can announce it to your entire network via Facebook or Twitter. You interact with the location by posting a comment or tip about the area and read what other people have said about the location before you.

How SCVNGR differs from Four Square is in its “treks” and its “challenges.” Each location you visit on SCVNGR offers different challenges to complete. Challenges can be pretty basic, such as submitting a photo of yourself in front of a business’ sign or writing what your favorite kind of beer is at the local pub. But when you start getting into treks, the challenges because a bit…well…more challenging.

Treks are basically collections of places that revolve around a certain theme where challenges can be completed. For the more part, it seems as though treks are sponsored by companies looking to promote something. The weekend I participated in the Dexter SCVNGR hunt, I also noticed a trek for “Eat, Pray, Love.”

By completing challenges as each location, you receive points. Get enough points or complete a certain challenge and you might get rewarded with a badge—basically just a little image to adorn your SCVNGR profile. Since you can “friend” people on SCVNGR, those badges are worth bragging rights too.

So that’s the basic rundown of how SCVNGR works. When I come back and post about SCVNGR as it relates to Dexter, I’ll go a little more into detail on how I think it can be an effective tool for marketing.

For now, a few quick long comments on where I think the program can technically be improved.

  1. The biggest frustration for me was the inability to do really anything without being physically close to a trek or location. Even now as I’m trying to go through the application and remember what I didn’t like, I can’t access features because where I live isn’t close enough to any treks. I get that you shouldn’t be able to participate in a trek unless you are in the physical location. But I live just 30 miles from Seattle, I should be able to at least see what treks are going on to see if I want to participate. I’m guessing a lot of people delete this app right after downloading it because they can’t see anything useful to do with it.
  2. Your SCVNGR “profile” is accessible at SCVNGR.com, but why aren’t your treks? Why isn’t there a searchable list of treks on the SCVNGR website? Why can’t you check and see where you rank in a trek online? Since I live too far away from Seattle, I can’t check my ranking in the Dexter SCVNGR hunt. All I know is that when I left the city, I was in first. This bums me out, even if my first place is only worth bragging rights.
  3. I can’t figure out how to click on pushpins on the map so it tells me what location it is. I’m directionally challenged. Street names mean nothing to me. So if I have 10 addresses and 10 pushpins, there’s no way I’m going to be able to match them. Let me click on a pushpin so it can tell me which place I’m going to! And if this is possible, please, make it easier to do.
  4. Seriously, why isn’t there a checklist for each location on a trek. When you’ve completed challenges at a certain location, why can’t it be marked off? I was apparently missing a challenge in the Dexter hunt, so I had to walk/drive miles between places to be close enough to check and see where I had missed a challenge. Pretty frustrating.
  5. Vanishing challenges. This was really annoying. I’d do a challenge, leave the location, and then 30 minutes later that challenge was marked as not done. Totally frustrating, particularly when you have to go through the entire list to see where a challenge “disappeared,” which means walking to each location to be physically close enough to a place for the app to let you view the challenges.

There’s your SCVNGR low down. I think this is a pretty cool tool for social media with a lot of promise. More details to come in my next blog entry.

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