Facebook Places arrived for Australian users on 30 September, with an up-dated iPhone and mobile website. While it may be dismissed as a Foursquare copy – there are some similarities and differences, which I’ll consider from the point of view of a restaurant or pub (bar) manager when considering how you can leverage these tools in your marketing set.
Foursquare is a location based application, that uses the GPS in people’s smartphones (iPhone / Andriod etc). When the user opens the application, they can see places near them and “check-in” to a location saying that they are there. Users can elect to link Foursquare to their Twitter and Facebook accounts, and Foursquare will publish their check-in in those outlets as well. Foursquare operates in a game format, with users unlocking badges, prizes, and becoming the “mayor” of a place if they have the most check-ins there. Significantly, users can see “tips” left by other users, and create a to-do list of places they would like to visit. Like any review site, these tips can be positive or negative.
A venue can apply to control their listing in Foursquare, which is a somewhat slow and bewildering process as they validate manually that you are the legitimate representative of the venue. Once this is done, you can offer specials for frequent check-ins, to the mayor, and all of these are visible to users nearby. Foursquare just announced that they had 3 million users, and this is growing by the 250,000 or more a month. The ability for users to see promotions is a valuable part of using Foursquare, and making your venue known.
As part of brand monitoring and being on top of this group of early adopters, we believe there is value in monitoring and being involved in Foursquare (and Facebook Places). Like any social media – it will appeal to some users, and not others, but through participation you increase your reach and can connect to more customers. (Some interesting success stories – Macdonalds and Borders Books.)
Having covered Foursquare, now let us look at Facebook Places. Similar application on the iPhone within Facebook, you check-in … and you can share this on your Facebook page and see other friends in the location. You can also “tag” friends with you and publish the fact that they are there too. What Facebook has is the location based essence of Foursquare, currently without the game aspects, tips, or special offers. It does offer the same ability to claim a location as the “owner” (which is not available yet, but coming in the next month or so).
It is speculation at this stage, but there is a clear indication that Facebook will link advertisements to places, and allow for a better linking of Business Fan Pages to their location listing in Facebook Places.
Location based services are driving social media innovation, as people look to target offers, special and specific advertisements to people where they are right now.
Contact us to see how Facebook Places and Foursquare can put your business “on the map”.