By Bob Speyer, Web Success Team
Facebook has just rolled out its new geolocation service called “Places” that will allow users to share their physical locations online, similar to Foursquare. Since both social sites will perform basically the same functionality, the difference resides in reach. Foursquare has about 2.5 million users and Facebook has 500 million, 150 million of which are mobile users. The benefits of location sharing will greatly expand to a broader audience through Facebook.
Connecting People with Places
Now Facebook users can use their mobile phones to check in to a business and then share it with their Facebook user base of friends. An optional service will allow users to find others in their geo local area who have recently logged in as well. There may be a few privacy issues concerning this, but if you don’t want to be found, simply don’t broadcast it! However, Facebook has learned from past privacy indiscretions and information will only be shared with friends and not open to everyone. There is a function that allows the user to turn this feature off, but by default it is programmed to be “on”. The question is not how the feature will be used, rather will it change social habits and how many people will actually use it and make it a habit.
Facebook has stated that Places is a platform that will work in tandem to existing and new services, like Gowalla, Foursquare, Yelp and Booyah. These services will make the necessary modifications on their websites and mobile applications to be compatible with Facebook Places. Using Places will allow a Foursquare user to still strive to become mayor of a location or earn a retail reward, but their information will be shared with friends and can be integrated into their Facebook history.
How Facebook will monetize Places is yet to be determined. At present, Facebook is more concerned with the user experience and becoming “more addicted” to using or relying on Facebook. However, the data collected from people and places visited will be invaluable for advertisers. Facebook will better understand the behavior of people in real-world situations, not just by clicking a link. Users will be able to gain added benefit by merging stories, photos and check-ins for a more fulfilling experience. Advertisers will come on board and eventually Facebook will shake the money tree with Places.
In the final analysis, people will be able to keep up with or follow their friends and the places they frequent. A buzz about a place or location, whether it is a restaurant, a hot spot or vacation area will generate interest and take on a life of its own when trolling for things to do or places to eat. People now have the ability to connect more easily with friends — and Facebook is leading the way.
About the Author: Bob Speyer is an online marketer, social media strategist and co-founder of the Web Success Team. Bob develops effective marketing strategies to help companies increase brand awareness and target more customers for their products and services. His articles are intended to educate as well as inform readers of the latest tools and techniques of online marketing. You can follow Bob on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.