Facebook Places launched in the US last week laying claim to three major features:
1. It will allow users to share where they are with their friends.
2. It will allow users to see who is near them.
3. It will allow users to discover new places around them.
As a social media agency we’re always interested in what these developments could mean for marketers, so here are 5 ways in which marketers could potentially make use of Facebook Places:
1. Reach extension
Given that, by default, Places checkins will automatically go to a users profile and news stream (unless the privacy settings are adjusted) places can extend reach for marketers.
Not only will people be able to discover new areas or locations through Places itself but when people checkin from a venue they are broadcasting their presence at that spot to their entire Facebook network.
As emarketer points out, Marketers want to reach consumers when they are close to making a purchase. Places will enable them to deliver a targeted advert when consumers are at the point of decision.
This is very powerful as companies will be able to work out what consumers are interested in and deliver helpful advertising and compelling offers before consumers type a query into a search engine.
If ads can be pushed to people the moment they are engaged with something, rather than waiting until they take action and start a search, the ads become extremely powerful and can drive sales.
3. Location promotion
Yes this is a bit of an obvious one. But with around 1.5 million business pages on Facebook, businesses with an existing Facebook page can merge that page with their Places page by “claiming” it, or letting Facebook know that the business belongs to them.
Once it has been verified by Facebook, every time someone checks in from that location the business will inadvertently receive exposure from the check in.
4. Discounts and offers
Tom Bedecarre, CEO of AKQA, suggests that while Foursquare popularized the gaming aspect of checking in from physical venues (where people become “Mayors” for example), rewards could develop to become vouchers, coupons or some other type of discount (eg, first 50 people to checkin at our coffee house get a free muffin).
With this in mind, Facebook Places could eventually be used as a way of distributing discounts and offers to people within a certain proximity. This would have the added bonus of putting an offer in front of someone when they’re in a place that allows for an immediate transaction.
The data that you can collect on Places users and the number of times they checkin could prove valuable in tracking customer activity, consumer personas and, indeed, competitor activity.
Also if people checkin to a certain venue or business and then leave any tips, advice or comments then this information will be useful feedback for businesses.
It will be interesting to see how things develop with Facebook Places over the next few months, especially when it is eventually rolled out to other countries other than the USA.