By James Shaw and Amelia Penner Facebook has recently come out with its own version of location-based social networking: Facebook Places. Facebook Place is now available in Canada as of September 24.
What is Facebook Places?
Facebook Places is a mobile geo-location application that allows people to "check-in" to your business. If a person has a smartphone, they simply walk/drive/run/ski/bike/swim to your place of business, open up the Facebook app, and hit the button that tells all of their friends where they are. Eg. James Shaw is at Starbucks. So when a person is out for dinner, at the movies, or even grocery shopping they can use Facebook Places to check in to your location. Your location will then appear on Facebook for your friends to see in their news feed.
Then, next time you are at a location you can see how many of your friends are there too. A cool feature to Facebook Places is that by adjusting your privacy settings you can allow your friends to check you in. You can access Facebook Places using the Facebook App for smartphones (iPhones, Blackberry, etc) or iPad. Another option is to use the mobile website from your laptop or desktop: http://touch.facebook.com For official Facebook Places information, please visit Facebook.com/Places. You can also Download the PDF Guide.
Why Should I Care?
Facebook is really popular. Over 500 million people use Facebook. Around 60% of Canadians aged 18 to 55 use Facebook - often every day! The sheer size, time spent, and volume of conversations is astounding. Smart business owners and marketers have recognized that the world hangs out on Facebook. Yes, Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton, Kamloops, Vancouver business owners... your customers and clients are probably hanging out on Facebook. Are you hanging out with them?!
How Can My Business Use This?
First of all, it's important to have your business contact info listed correctly. In a sense, Facebook is becoming the largest business directory in the world. Also, with Facebook Places your company will have access to localized advertising opportunities as they come available. Other GPS enabled apps like Foursquare allow virtual prizes like "mayorships" to the person that checks in at that location the most often. Facebook may do something that encourages regular visits too. In-line promos, discounts, etc. are likely to follow in the future to allow businesses to take advantage of this new marketing channel. Eg. "Check-in to get 10% off!"
I Want to Get Started!
The first step is to claim your business on Facebook Places. Even if you are not ready to use Facebook Places with your business just yet, you should still claim your business. Claiming your business allows you to manage the address, contact information, business hours, profile picture, admins and other settings. By claiming your business now you can avoid any long waits later on down the road when you want to start using it.
Your business can also have its own page on Facebook, called a Fan Page. In fact, when you claim your business for the first time, Facebook will turn it into a Fan Page anyway. Fan Pages are a great way to engage with your customer base through stories, photos, videos, promos and other content. The idea is to share news, tips and tricks, swap opinions and ask your customers questions. It's a social site remember! As people engage with your brand they often become a little PR army spreading the buzz about your company to their friends around the web.
Can I Get Help?
Claiming your business on Facebook Places is free but can be complicated if you do not have experience. We can help! Twin Creek Media has worked with many companies to build brand awareness through Facebook Fan Pages, Facebook Ads, and soon Facebook Places. We often integrate marketing efforts across multiple social sites, like Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube and streamline the content updating process with software tools to make things EASY for you!