Facebook Places: Hyper-Local Marketing and Advertising from Facebook

Written by Robin WildingApril 20, 2011

Last year Facebook edged in on Foursquare territory when they opened Facebook Places—a hyper-local form of marketing copied from already successful location-based apps. Foursquare even openly welcomed the move from the social marketing giant as they sent a spokesperson to the opening party at Facebook HQ to deliver a speech about the importance of a big player like Facebook recognizing the importance location-based applications--but unfortunately the speech sounded more like a Foursquare eulogy than a Facebook Places welcome.

Facebook Places is quickly eclipsing the LivingSocial, Foursquare and the like—making it a force to be reckoned with. With features like check ins and daily deals Facebook has managed to bring a low-cost effective form of advertising to local businesses in a way that allows small businesses with little to no marketing budget to leverage the social giant's over half billion users.

Facebook Places has several features that make the system a viable hyper-local marketing platform: Deals, Check In, friend Tagging, and Facebook Place ownership.

Deals

The “Deals” feature of Facebook Places is similar to the daily deals offered by Groupon, but only surf to or activate once users check in to the restaurant, bar, coffee chop or other Facebook Places sponsor. The nature of the Deals is comparative to a digital loyalty card.

Currently there are 4 different types of deals: individual, friend-based, loyalty and charity.

Check In

By checking in with your smart phone you can share your location with your friends, via the Facebook platform; the update will show up on your Facebook Wall, your Places page, and on friends' news feed. Once checked in your can tag your friends and appear in “Here Now”, a service that allows you to connect with other Places users who are checked-in in your area.

Tagging

In typical Facebook fashion, you can tag your friends while using Places, allowing you to integrate your social network into your deals and check ins. The Tag Friends With You feature lets you operate in real-time—but this must be done as you check-in as friends cannot be tagged once you are already checked-in.

Owning a Facebook Place

Local businesses can create a Facebook Place—free of charge. Place owners can later turn the Place into a proper Facebook Page where users can post comments, use Likes, and make Wall posts.

Facebook created a nice little caveat feature within Place ownership that verifies that you are the true owner of the location, a move that helps prevent cyber squatters.

Available Countries

Facebook Places is currently available in Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Canada, Japan, United Kingdom, United States, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, South Africa, Finland, Ireland, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, and Philippines. There are more countries on the way though—the first to come to market should be the countries where Facebook user-ship is most prevalent.

Supported Systems

Facebook Places currently works with the iOS, Blackberry, Android and Windows Mobile operating systems—provided you use an HTML5-enabled browser. Anyone without a smartphone can sign up and check in via  touch.facebook.com on their laptop or netbook—even if it does not have a GPS.

Conclusion

Facebook Places has already established a market for itself and provided an amazing advertising position for small local businesses who can't afford expensive FB advertising campaigns--giving them access to all the Facebook Places users in their area.

Facebook is taking the app seriously, seriously enough to buy Seattle startup Rel8tion.  Rel8tion is a hyper-local mobile advertising service—and a company with some serious talent. Facebook is calling the move a “talent acquisition”, BUT some analysts suspect that Facebook will integrate the mobile advertising services into their portfolio. Even if they don't the acquisition adds Peter Wilson, a former engineering star from Google, who will now be the Engineering Director of their Seattle office, and most likely on the Facebook Places team. The addition of Wilson should help stimulate some interesting new features for Places.

Previously Rel8tion created a prototype for a system that allows advertisers and users to find ads based on geographic location, income, age, gender, ethnicity, profession, education, marital status, employment status and more.

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