By now you know that Facebook’s newest feature, “Places”, allows users to share where they are and what they are up to using geo-location technology on smart phones in the US. Check out our previous blog posts for our perspective on this feature.
We have been working hard over the past few weeks to fully incorporate Places into our product offerings. We are no stranger to location-based social networking, and have been powering local social solutions for over a year now.
Facebook Places creates a number of opportunities for marketers, and this post is the first in a series of blog posts that will dig deeper on the subject. To fully understand Places and how it can benefit your business, we need to first clarify the terminology:
Place – A “Place” is a physical location with a distinct latitude/longitude. Facebook has defined many Places already, but you or any Facebook user can also define a Place from your Facebook-enabled smartphone. Facebook generally seeks to define places as individual business locations (as you will see from “Claiming a Place” below), but users do have flexibility to define Places in different ways. For instance, an individual restaurant (Place) could be in a Food Court (a different Place), which could be in a Shopping Mall (yet another Place). Over time we expect place definitions to primarily be at the individual business level.
Claiming a Place – Business owners can “claim” a Facebook Place and control the content associated with that location (e.g., description and business hours). The process for claiming the business will vary, depending on whether Facebook has a telephone listing for the business already loaded in its system. More on this in a future post.
Place Page – A Place Page is a Facebook Page that corresponds to a “Place”. Once a Place is “claimed” (see above), the business owner or administrator(s) can publish to the Wall of the Place Page.
Check-In – When a user arrives at a Place, he or she can share that fact with Facebook friends via a “check-in”. This check-in prompts a status update on your Wall and news feed with a personalized message followed by “at (Place Name)”
Merging Pages – If your business has an existing Facebook Page and if that Page is classified as a “Local Business”, you will likely be prompted by Facebook to merge that Local Business Page with your claimed Facebook Place page. Merging the pages will transition your fans (people who have clicked “Like”) to that Place page, and will consolidate your Facebook presence for that business location into one Place Page. (Some of the specifics of this merge process are not yet well documented, so if you have multiple locations associated with your business, we advise that you exercise caution before choosing to merge a Place Page with a Local Business Page.)
Tag – When you check-in to a location, you can “Tag” any friend(s) you are with (this is similar in concept to tagging a photo on Facebook). If you tag friends, the check-in that appears in your friends’ News Feeds will say (Your Name) at (Place Name) with (list of tagged friends)”. Note that Facebook privacy settings allow users to opt-out of being tagged in other updates.
Like – In the context of Facebook Places, users can “Like” a Place Page, just as they would Like any other Facebook Page. Note that clicking “Like” on a Place Page and clicking “Check In” on a mobile device are different actions. Liking a Place Page shows that you like the location. Checking In shows that you physically are at the location.
Now that we have the terminology out of the way, stay tuned for our next post where we will talk about the mechanics of Claiming a Place and Merging Pages.