Location, Location, Location: Facebook Places

It’s all about location! So many companies have tapped into location-based functionalities this year using services like FoursquareShopkick, Gowalla, Loopt, and others.  They allow these brands to offer discounts on purchases, dollars off appetizers and drinks, and sometimes giveaways to customers, all in hopes their companies will gain monetarily.

Now, Facebook has entered the world of offering location-based functionality as they just announced ‘Places.’  Facebook knows a little something about social media, attracting a half billion people to its network, so you know ‘location’ must be where it is at, or at least they hope so.  Like Foursquare, with Places, one can share their location with friends, find out where your ‘Places’ Facebook friends are, and discover new places near you.   You can add new ‘Places’, check into existing ‘Places’ and even tag people you are with at that location. Right now you can do all this through an iPhone application or login to touch.facebook.com using a Smartphone.

Hopefully this will bring about new marketing tactics for businesses. As a business, you can submit your business and its location to Facebook Places for customers to check into when they arrive, broadcasting their presence in your store to both the business and their Facebook friends. This feature, opposed to just a Company Facebook Page, allows for companies to tap into who their clients are and see how they behave. It also gives businesses a unique way to target customers and hit them with specialized offers and discounts at the point of decision. Facebook Places aims to bring more small businesses online and allow more people to find and become aware of your business.

‘Places’ couldn’t come at a better time for Facebook; the number of new Facebook users dropped in June – one of the first times for the social network.  This feature will likely draw more new users, businesses included, to the network and generate more usage from all users.  More users and more businesses means more advertising dollars for Facebook and more competition for Google, making Facebook a powerhouse.

One potential problem, one which isn’t unfamiliar to Facebook, is privacy.  Facebook thinks they have it covered, but groups like Please Rob Me, still has some qualms. Only time will tell the success of Facebook Places… Find out more about Places, here.

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