Sites such as Gowalla and Foursquare have made a lot of noise in the last year as social media has made its way to mobile phones. Not only do these sites allow you to connect with friends and find out where they are, but also allow businesses jump into a new form of marketing.
Businesses can now create promotions for people who check-in at their business. For example, foursquare users who check-in at Chili’s (participating locations only) receive free chips and salsa. All users have to do is mention that they have checked in on Foursquare and they receive the discount. Promotions like these have caused Facebook to step up and add a new featured called Facebook Places.
What is Facebook Places?
Facebook Places is Facebook’s answer to location based social networks. Businesses have the ability to go into Facebook and set up a “Place” which will allow Facebook users to check in using an iPhone App or the website touch.facebook.com.
By checking into a business your Facebook friends can now see where you are without you having to connect another social network to your Facebook account or relying on your friends to be a part of another social network. If they are out with you, they can be tagged in the check-in as well, letting their friends see where they’re at. This is also a form of promotion for a business as the more people check into a location the more the business name gets out to their friends, which invites new potential customers into the business.
Facebook Places does respect the privacy of users and does allow Facebook users to choose who gets to see where they check-in and if they are tagged in a check-in.
The major downside is that once a business is added to Facebook Places, at the moment it cannot be edited, so once it is set up there is no chance to add or remove information from it. Businesses can claim their Place if they were not the ones who initially added it and add the basic information, but once it has been edited there is nothing more they can do. This is why Facebook Pages aren’t going anywhere.
Facebook Places vs. Facebook Pages
While Facebook Places is a step in the right direction for Facebook, it’s causing a lot of confusion among businesses. Some businesses already have a Facebook group, a Facebook page, and now they need to add a Facebook Place. None of them are linked together, so which should a business use?
Most businesses have already phased out their Facebook Group; since the Facebook Pages were created for official for businesses and groups are now set-up for fans to maintain.
If you are a business owner starting fresh with your business on Facebook, start with a Facebook Page and a Facebook Place (only if you have a physical location for your business).
The Facebook Page will allow you to connect with “fans” of your business and post updates about your business as well as allow you to update your profile whenever you want. Most Facebook users are familiar with Facebook Pages and the “like” button associated with them. With your Facebook Page set up you now have a way to let fans post notes to your wall, photos to your photo album, or limit it down so all they can do is read about your business. Facebook Pages allows your fans to directly interact with your business.
The Facebook Place should be created to allow people to check-in to your business and tell their friends. The best part about Facebook Places is that it will more or less maintain itself once it has been created. Facebook users do have the ability to “like” the Facebook Place as well so encourage visitors to press the “like” button after they check-in.
How to Set Them Up
The one important thing to remember about anything on Facebook is that you must have an account to create a Page or a Place. The first step is registering your Facebook account [www.facebook.com], and then moving forward with the business information. By setting up the Places and Pages under your account you will automatically become an admin of it.
While Facebook initially set up a number of places by default, not every location is there. You can either add a new Facebook Place or claim a listing as your own (if it really is your own).
To add a new Facebook Place
- Go to touch.facebook.com
- Click Check-in
- Add in a description of the Place
- Click “Add”
Claim Your Business
- Search Facebook Places for your business
- Click the link that says, “Is this your business?”
- Follow the steps to verify that you own the business.
Facebook Pages are fairly easy to set up and most Facebook users know how to connect with them fairly easily.
- Go to facebook.com/pages
- Click “+ Create a Page”
- As long as the page is for your business it is considered an Official Page.
- Fill in the basics about your business
- Click “Create Official Page”
Pretty simple, huh? Now your business is set up and ready to go, so what is the next step?
Maintain and Promote
Now that your business is set up on Facebook Pages and Facebook Places the next step is to maintain everything that has been set up. Encourage your customers and friends to “like” your Facebook Page and encourage your employees to check-in to the Facebook Place each day.
As more people check-in to the Facebook Place, more people will start to notice it on their Facebook news feeds. Post information, advertisements, and promotions for your business on the Facebook Page to draw people in to learn more about your business.
Overtime people are hoping that Facebook Pages can be linked to Facebook Places, allowing Facebook Users only to like one page instead of two. For now, using these two Facebook applications together will start to build up a fan base that you might not have had outside of the social network.