If blog posts regarding the recent Facebook Places buzz have left you scratching your head in confusion…you aren’t alone. Articles like this one from Gizmodo boldly claim that Facebook has “killed” Places since “people interested in checking in were likely already using Foursquare to accomplish it.” Not quite.
In fact, Facebook has made location an even bigger part of the social sharing experience. While Facebook has axed the mobile-only Places functionality, they have integrated location sharing in to almost every aspect of their platform.
Location sharing is valuable to users’ social interactions because people want to let their friends know where they have been, where they are now, and where they are going to go. Seems pretty obvious, right? In “old fashion” face-to-face conversations with friends regarding location (who has those anymore?), those three tenets reign supreme. With this change, Facebook has identified what most location-based services have missed – the “where you have been” and “where you are going to go” pieces that are central to social interactions.
Users can now share their location from their smart phones and computers, making it easier than ever to share past, current, and future plans. Since Facebook has also announced plans to amp up security and control surrounding sharing, users should become more likely to share at a higher rate. These updates integrate context and content with location sharing, hence making the stories shared by users more robust and valuable.
A few additional points:
- -Facebook Deals can still only be redeemed through checking in via your mobile device if you are physically at the location. (Don’t get any ideas about checking in from your couch to redeem a Deal.)
- -The concept of Places Pages is going away as we know it today, but not in totality. Places Pages will still exist but will appear as Fan Pages do, under the “Local Businesses & Places” category. (A welcome change to those of us who have endured the process of claiming and verifying official business Places Pages.)
- -The Facebook iPhone app update will still allow people to check in to Places via the navigation icon and the “Check In” button at the top of the home screen. As an update, users will then be directed to add color to their update through the option of publishing who they are with and what they are doing – bringing more value to the check in itself.
In recapitulation, Facebook isn’t getting out of the location game. Facebook wouldn’t be where they are today if they dismissed location as a central element of the social sharing experience. Instead, they are taking their game to a whole new level and we are excited for the value-add that this update will bring to the content that is shared via the platform.
See Facebook’s official explanation of the new features and view an informational video about the changes.