Move over, Foursquare. Back off, Gowalla. Facebook Places is the new kid in town.
Yesterday, Facebook unveiled its new Places function, which allows users to share their locations by “checking in.” This information is then broadcast on the user’s wall as well as the news feeds of all of their friends. Facebook also allows users to tag their friends as part of the check-in, though, for privacy reasons, there’s a way to disable that feature.
If you don’t have the Facebook Places function just yet, don’t worry. It is slowly being rolled out to U.S. users over the next few days.
Places also has a “People Here Now” feature, which shows users other people who have checked in at that same location, with the idea that they might chat it up with people who have similar interests. Once again, there is a way to disable this feature in the privacy controls by unchecking the “Include me in the ‘People Here Now’ after I check in” box.
Only your friends can see when you’ve checked into a particular location, unless you update your settings to include “Everyone.” If your friend tags you, you receive a Facebook notification.
So what does this mean to you and your business? One advantage is the awesome power of word-of-mouth. The average Facebook user has 130 friends, so when they check in at your business, this information is shared with their network. Think of it as a social endorsement of sorts — and that person’s friends may be more apt to visit your business as a result.
As with the other location-based applications out there, businesses can also use these check-ins to incentivize their customer base. Maybe you own a restaurant, and after a person checks in 10 times there, they receive a 50% discount on their meal.
Maybe you’re a Starbucks franchisee, and the person who checks in the most times over the course of a week gets a free cup of joe. Rewarding people for their patronage is a great way to take advantage of these types of tools.
So is anyone using Facebook Places already? Do you have any plans to utilize it in your business?