The release of Facebook Places is about ready to catch fire. A location-based feature that mirrors Foursquare in functionality, Facebook Places allows you to virtually share your physical location with friends, find out where your friends are, and discover new existing places near by.
Launched in early August Places has slowly but surely begun to steal away users from existing location-based networks as it continues a grand release of its application to countries all over the world. So what does this new Facebook feature offer local businesses and organizations off the record? It offers a chance for a tailored demographic marketing campaign, an opportunity for your business to go viral, and easily accessible analytics on local competitors. How does it all work? Follow the steps below to get started.
How to access places and claim your business
Assuming you are one of the 500 million plus users registered on Facebook, the first step to using Places would be claiming your local business. There is a chance that your business has already been accounted for in the network but in case you were missed there is a sure fire way to become a listed location. Begin by searching for your business using the Facebook search bar from your computer or from your smart phone. In the case where your business is not listed you will need to be on sight (business location) as a security precaution to register your place. If after searching you do not see your business listed, you can add it via the “add” or “+” button. Follow instructions and Facebook will issue you a security code and a phone call to verify your location and business.
Once Facebook has verified your business you are ready to go. You will now have the ability to manage your location’s hours, contact information, avatar, directions, and more. Using an Iphone or a smart phone browser you are now able to check into your business location using Facebook Places.
How to Use Places
Places and all other location-based features or applications normally require a smart phone. Of course a computer always works but it is often difficult to bring along a lap top to many locations in everyday life. Currently the Iphone is the only smart phone to have a Places application up and running. However Android and Blackberry versions of Places are expected to be available in the near future.
To use Places on an Iphone go to the Iphone application Places. Other smart phones can still access Places via the internet browser website, touch.facebook.com. Confirm that Facebook is allowed to access your location and begin using the application to search for a current listing. From this interface you now have the ability to share your location with friends, find out where your friends currently a
re, and browse for new places. You even have the ability to check in at a specific location and tag friends that are currently at that location with you. This is the element that businesses will drool over as this feature acts as “social approval” also referred to as “social proof” for a location and promotes further business.
Places for Business Sake
If your business currently has a Facebook page and operates from only one physical location then Facebook will grant you the option of merging your Places feature with your Facebook fan page. By choosing to allow this merge your business page will automatically be updated to include a map and the necessary check in information to allow Places to function accordingly. All tabs, photos, company information, events, and paid advertisements will remain the same.
Places for Business
Facebook Places is set to catch a blaze in the near future and we mean this in a good way. Most recently launched in Japan, Places has 500 plus million potential users and every physical location based business available to participate. The creativity for advertising and promotions might as well be unlimited and the analytics that will be available to marketing executives will provide enough insight to approach those social butterflies that are responsible for bringing the crowd with them where ever it is they may choose to be. Already local restaurants and breweries are intertwining what is referred to as “social buying” such as in what Groupon is known for with Places, where about they offer extreme discounts to everybody physically present given enough folks check into Places using their smart phone.