Facebook Places for Your Business

by Umar Syed | @UmarSyed

If your business is trying to stand out among the mess of on and off-line social media deals for your customers, Facebook Places might just be the behemoth elephant in the room. Like with any feature addition, Facebook ultimately wins thousands of users to favor and utilize it.

In short, Facebook Places is a blend between location-based Foursquare specials and Groupon style social buying. Or for Facebook’s own longer explanation:

What is Places?

Places is a Facebook feature that allows you to see where your friends are and share your location in the real world. When you use Places, you'll be able to see if any of your friends are currently checked in nearby and connect with them easily. You can check into nearby Places to tell your friends where you are, tag your friends in the Places you visit, and view comments your friends have made about the Places you visit. Use Places to experience connecting with people on Facebook in a completely new way.

Facebook Places taps into users’ social graph, creating real-time comments and check-ins about your business that are potentially shared with hundreds of people at a time. The page itself includes a map and a list of a user’s friends who are checked-in or have checked-in in the past. But the real goldmine for businesses lies in the deals you can create for your business via Facebook Places to encourage off-line, in-store interaction and engagement.

The four types of deals:

  • Individual - simple rewards or discounts for customer check-ins
  • Friend - require tagging a number of friends as a method of social savings
  • Loyalty- require multiple check-ins, similar to a traditional punch card
  • Charity - business pledges to donate when customers check-in

The first big business to publicly experiment with a Facebook Places deal was Gap in November of 2010. Gap vouched to give away 10,000 free pairs of jeans nationally to anyone who checked-in on Facebook Places and showed their check-in to the cashier. However, their deal involved a lot of fine print that ultimately angered and frustrated many customers who either didn’t know how to check-in on their smartphones, or were not aware of the quantity of jeans being given away at their local Gap. Many critics debate the event as either or both a success and failure; read more here and assess for yourself.

Regardless of the outcome to Gap’s bottom line, the event drew national media attention and the interest of Facebook users looking to save a few bucks from their favorite businesses in the future. Ultimately, Mark Zuckerberg’s plan is to “make everything social.”

Is your business ready?  Think of creative ways to aggressively seek customers to check-in and share their experiences at your business with their Facebook friends. To get started experimenting with how your business can use Facebook Places, own and claim your business; learn how here.