After months of hearing about foursquare and the rise of location-based social applications, Facebook decided to join the party. Back in August of 2010 Facebook released Facebook Places and the rest might well be history. Subscribers of this blog know how much we love location-based game foursquare, so before jumping in with our thoughts on Facebook Places, we wanted to give the new tool some time to show how effective it can be for small business owners. 5 months later, we are ready to say that Facebook Places will be a viable small business marketing channel. If you own a small business, it’s time to start really taking advantage of location-based marketing tools like foursquare, SCVNGR, and now Facebook Places.
Facebook: The Power of the Community
After the first 5 months, Facebook Places doesn’t really offer any new earth-shattering technology or features when compared with foursquare, and you could say that SCVNGR’s features blow both tools away. With that said, what Facebook Places currently lacks in WOW factor features is made up for by being backed by the biggest online community on the planet. Although foursquare is continuing to add new users faster, Facebook’s numbers are staggering. With so many small businesses already using their Facebook Business Page to connect & engage their prospects and customers, Facebook Places is a natural progression for those small businesses who see the power of Location Marketing.
Check-In at My Small Business on Facebook Places
Facebook Places allows prospects and customers to check-in at your business on Facebook. When a customer or prospect checks-in to your Place page that activity will end up in their friends’ News Feed. This is pretty powerful especially when many Facebook users have hundreds of Friends and some have thousands. That’s a lot of relevant eyeballs for your business. Oh and by the way, your business may already have a Facebook Places page, as users can add a Place if it’s not listed when they go to check-in. You should probably look into that.
Small business owners should encourage customers and prospects to check-in on Facebook Places to capture the eyeballs that we discussed above, but also as a way to start getting to know the people who visit your store. When someone checks-in at your Place you can see who that person is, which means you can start engaging him or her around relevant topics about your business and industry.
There are a lot of other great features for small business owners to take advantage of with Facebook Places, but first you must claim your Facebook Place. This is a topic for another day. For now, hopefully this post has convinced you to start using Facebook Places to promote your small business. That doesn’t mean you should stop using foursquare and SCVNGR, it simply means that until we find out who the winner of this location marketing race will be, you should be using all of the tools that make sense for your business and your customers. At this point we are ready to say that Facebook Places deserves a spot alongside of the traditional location-based social tools like foursquare & SCVNGR.
We will discuss claiming your Facebook Place in a future post. When you claim your Facebook Place you will get access to even more features geared towards helping you promote your small business on Facebook.