It seems they never rest over there in Facebook land. Hardly a breath is taken between the introductions of a new application or design, each intended on bringing hundreds of millions of people together with greater ease. On August 18, 2010 they released “Facebook Places” that has already raised a colossal amount of comments, extreme on both sides of the spectrum. However, I am not here to discuss whether it is the greatest technological finding since the hard drive or whether it is an opening for even further scrutiny of the worldwide web. These are just the basics.
Facebook Places is simply a location-based service that allows users to “check-in” to physical locations and then show their friends where they are and where they have been. Partnered with 4Square, Gowalla, Yelp, and Booyah, Facebook Places is one step further towards increased connection for every branch of communication. Tech Crunch introduced this application and their connections with other social media sites on their website.
The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said in the presentation of Facebook Places that it has been created for three reasons.
Three reasons for the existence of Facebook Places:
1. Help you share where you are.
When people “check-in” to different locations using this app, it shows up on their mini-feed allowing people to see what restaurants they are visiting frequently, and what venues they have toured. This application also gives the option of tagging other friends at a specific location, which promotes a stronger customer base for those without Facebook mobile. If a location has not been added onto the Places, it is simple for any customer to add the venue simply by typing in the name, address, and brief description. Of course it can be edited at anytime.
2. Help you see who’s around you.
This aspect may seem invasive, but it should be understood that if someone has “checked-in” than they are willing to expose their current location to friends only. It essentially pulls everyone’s Facebook statuses that exclaim, “Off to do some shopping at Lenox!” or “Just had a great experience with Home Depot customer service,” and compiles the locations into one simple reader. Mark Zuckerberg told a personal account of eating dinner with his wife, checking the Facebook Places, and realizing that their best friends were at the restaurant next door. He called it a “serendipitous moment” that solidified what they were trying to accomplish.
3. See what’s going on nearby.
When visiting a new city or driving through a town on a road trip, many people want to see the sites and really take in the atmosphere. The way most people discover this is by picking up local brochures, logging onto Yelp, or asking Mr. Jones at the corner gas station. However, what better way to know what’s around you than looking at who of your friends have visited these locations on Facebook Places and asking for a direct referral that you trust? It can also show what places are popular in town, and what kind of consumer base each location attracts.
The core focus of Facebook is to bring people together and increase the ease of connection. However, any medium that incorporates customers and production companies will always be broken through by devious and brilliant advertisers looking to find a new breeding ground. The television was originally a new way of broadcasting media, and now 1/3 of every hour is crammed with advertising. Since the Internet was created, it has exploded into an advertiser’s dream. AdSpending on Facebook alone is assumed to reach $1.3 billion by the end of the year 2010, and this new addition will be no exception. Facebook Places is actively and with no shame targeting advertisers.
What business wouldn’t want to have a virtual presence in the world of Facebook? It is easily one of the biggest social networking sites and appeals to every age and gender. Over 150 million active users are on Facebook mobile. The consumer base is immense and growing. Facebook Places could become a HUGE marketing and advertising platform. It provides customers with immediate access to their address, map, phone number, public social activity, number of check-ins, who checked in, number of likes, etc. In other words, with one accidental or direct browse, customers can know everything they need to know without even stepping through the front door.
TechCrunch posted data about this aspect as well.
Facebook Page and Facebook Places have obvious similarities, which is why they are trying to merge the two together. Facebook is encouraging this especially for all large corporations. Merging the two also will give a more concise way to track consumers. However, for the time being it is important to know that it is possible to advertise Facebook Places just like a Facebook Page. Therefore, there’s no reason to only have one or the other. Increasing virtual presence will increase physical presence.
Facebook Places may be controversial at the time, but if it manages to get past the chastisement, it could be an interesting new curve ball to social media as a whole. But, like with all new inventions…only time will tell.