What Does Facebook Places Mean For You?
What is it?
If you’re familiar with FourSquare, the concept all sounds very familiar. However, if you’re not; Facebook Places encourages smartphone owners to location-share amongst their friends – with the aim to help users discover interesting places. People can add locations, check-in and tag people who they are with. This real-time data then appears in users profile, news feed and the activity stream for the place users have checked-in to.Why?
Why do brands want to know your location? Well, there are two simple answers. Firstly, brands recognise that people trust human beings rather corporations. You may not realise it, but, you are more trusted than a typical business – and by checking-in, users are inadvertently generating a peer-to-peer recommendation. Facebook has been quick to recognise this higher level of trust and subsequent influence that ‘people like me’ garner within their networks.Secondly, brands can monitor check-ins and then interact with users to offer benefits like vouchers or special offers etc. All of which, companies hope will enable them to establish a deeper relationship between users and the brand – and hopefully increase loyalty, leading to more sales, more often.
How’s it different to FourSquare?
Unlike FourSquare – users can engage directly with a check-in via Facebook, rather than having to use a third-party application like Twitter. Facebook Places links directly into your existing Facebook profile, allowing users to “check-in” to locations via status updates.
There are going to be privacy concerns. There always is with any new Facebook innovation. In particular, news that check-ins will appear by default on users profiles, news feeds and activity stream for the place users have checked-in to will cause concern. At present, friends by default, can check users in without explicit approval or permission.
However, I find myself in agreement with Adam Vincenzini of the Comms Corner who said ‘Privacy concerns will be a major talking point too – personally I think this issue will be the one that runs in mainstream media but not the real issue for marketers – people will adjust, they always do.’ I’d reiterate, that if you use social media like Facebook, you need to be familiar with the T&Cs and privacy settings. Most people now set their profile to ‘Private’ and I’d recommend having a browse and adjusting your privacy settings for Facebook Places accordingly.
This development gives brands the opportunity to “own” their physical locations on Facebook, which will provide a new and potentially lucrative opportunity to engage with an audience based on location.
In addition, news that check-ins will appear on customers’ friends’ News Feeds, will provide another channel for brands to generate organic impressions beyond the existing reach of official Pages or Groups. However, the benefit of engagement will need to be sufficient enough to encourage customers to continue to share amongst their networks experiences and recommendations of Places.
Claiming your Place
Facebook has made it difficult for Places to get hi-jacked by using a telephone authentication service. However, it is good planning to secure your venue now, rather than having to go through the reclaim process.
I’m fascinated to see how the launch of Facebook Places is received. We’ve been hearing about the impact geo-location is going to have on social media and mobile for the last couple of years. Foursquare and Gowalla have made inroads in this area, but Facebook Places could catapult geo-location into the mainstream.
You can find out more information on Facebook Places via the the official Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/places/