A friend of mine didn’t want her mother to know about her new boyfriend, just yet. She probably should have asked him not to check them in together everywhere they went. Her mom is her Facebook friend, after all, and it was just the tip-off she needed to ask, “Who is this guy you are going out with all the time?” This was good news for businesses they checked in to, but my friend had some explaining to do.
Last year geolocation services made a splash in social media, and in 2011 have become mainstream. The platforms on which users can participate are many, including Facebook Places, Foursquare, Gowalla, Google+ and Brightkite, among others. Even Twitter added a location tag. The question is no longer “do I use it?” but “which one do I use?” That decision became easier this week for users, as Foursquare celebrated a small victory over its top competitor when Facebook Places backed out of the battle, or so a lot of articles would like you to think.
This does not, however, mean that businesses should shy away from using Facebook.
Facebook Places isn’t going anywhere. It’s simply taking a new form. In true Facebook fashion, the social network is staying true to its roots of being a platform for other geolocation services to build on top of. This means that users can check in on FourSquare, have it automatically sync with a Facebook check in and be published to a user’s wall. The difference that is coming for users relates to privacy and attaching location to status updates and photos on the platform.
More control over who sees what Places that users check in to may be a little limiting for businesses as they won’t be public, however, at the end of the day, it’s users’ close-knit friends that are more important to reach – that’s not changing for businesses when users check in to their locations.
What does this mean for businesses? Facebook has been and is continuing to focus more on Pages so that businesses can take advantage of the platform. A local business can add a place to its page and have it appear on the information, like the example below. As a general rule of thumb, Facebook users that are seeking information on the platform like to stay within the Facebook environment. The more information you can provide about your business, the better. That includes the address, how to get there and making it as easy as possible for the user to get directions.
As any multi-location business or franchise knows, hierarchy on Facebook has always been an issue. Working with a rep, a business with multiple locations can also mass claim their locations, making a richer user experience for fans seeking local information. PF Chang’s has implemented this new feature:
Another feature on the horizon for business pages is linking a business page to its corresponding Gowalla and Yelp page, again, staying true to Facebook’s platform foundation. We suspect more of these integrations are coming. One example of this feature can be seen on Milk Studio's New York page:
Not only will Facebook users still be able to interact with brands through checking in, they can check in on whatever platform they prefer, Foursquare, Gowalla, etc., and have that information shared with whichever friends they’d like to see their location.
Facebook Places launched with a hundred times more users than Foursquare, but now Facebook is focusing on the plumbing for services like FourSquare to build on top of. This is good news for Foursquare, as the location star is projected to grow, especially with the increase in use of Smartphones. Ads, deals and games, such as “Foursquaropoly”, are in the works to engage Foursquare users and make checking in more fun.
Geolocation services give us another potentially powerful tool in our Social Media toolbox. While game mechanics helped get them off the ground and onto our Smartphones, there’s still a lot of potential that we haven’t seen yet when it comes to utility – discounts and deals are just the tip of the iceberg.
Do you use geolocation apps to benefit your business?
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Post written by Tia Marie Kemp. To learn more from fbadz.com, become a fan!