New Local Marketing Dimension: Facebook Places for Businesses

Facebook rolled out their new Places feature this week, allowing individuals to opt into status updates communicating their geolocations — a service that was likely inspired by smaller checkin services such as Foursquare and Gowalla.

If you’re an owner of a local business, you’re probably wondering what this means to you. For those who advertise on Facebook, a notification note was added to the Campaigns administration page to answer questions and tell how to leverage the new Places page that might be associated with your business.

I’m mirroring most of the salient information here so that those who don’t advertise in Facebook might be able to find the info without trying to search/dig around Facebook’s arcane information pages.

Here’s how a typical Facebook Places page will look (this example for the well-known Inwood Theatre in Dallas):

Inwood Theatre's Facebook Places Page

As you can see, Facebook has set up many local business pages based on business directory listings data. Facebook’s Places business data comes from Localeze and the maps on Facebook Places pages are supplied by Bing (although the maps on the Facebook iPhone app are supplied by Google).

As a business owner, you have to claim your Places page via the link (circled in red in the Inwood Theatre screengrab above), and Facebook may verify your claim via a phone call or they may “ask you for a document for verification”.

The potentially confusing/irksome thing about the Places rollout is that this has spawned additional pages for local businesses, many of whom had already set up their Facebook Page and even Group pages. So, this has created yet another page which you’ll now need to claim in order to help control and update/enhance your data.

Here’s what Facebook says about the pages, where businesses are concerned:

Announcing Facebook Places for Advertisers

Here’s some of the more interesting things Facebook says vis-a-vis local businesses and Places:

What does a Facebook Place look like on Facebook? What information is included on a Place page?

A Place page shows you a map of where the Place is located, a list of friends who are currently checked in at the Place (if any), and a Friend Activity stream of other friends who have visited the Place in the past. The Place page will contain additional relevant information about the Place if it’s available. You can post a story about the Place page to your profile by clicking the “Share” button on the bottom left of the page.

Please note that Place pages are not the same as Facebook Pages or Community Pages. Place pages are not added to your profile when you check in, but rather, only if you choose to “Like” them.

How does Facebook Places benefit advertisers?

The Places product creates more ways for you to promote and grow your business on Facebook. By giving your potential customers the ability to check in at your business, you give them the power to tell their friends about your business.

Why should I claim my Place on Facebook?

By claiming your Place you can manage your Place’s address, contact information, business hours, profile picture, admins and other settings.

I can’t find my Place on Facebook.

Facebook Places is still in development and does not yet include all business locations. If you cannot find your Place by searching for it on Facebook, you can create your Place yourself.

To create a new place, follow these steps:

  1. Access the Places application on your supported device.
  2. Click “Check In.”
  3. Click the “Add” button to the left of the Places Names search box.
  4. Enter a name for the new Place as well as an optional description of it. Then, click the “Add” button at the bottom right of the page.
  5. Click the “Check In” button to share your visit.

Keep in mind that any Place that you create is public. This means that other people may see your created Place while browsing Facebook or the Places application.

Once you create your Place, search for it again on Facebook, follow the “Is this your business?” link, and begin the process to claim your Place. Please note that more Places will be added over time.

As you can see from this info, Facebook Places pages for local businesses seems fairly sketchy in terms of what businesses can do to communicate with people who checkin at their locations, and it seems very limited in terms of what one might be able to do to customize the page in some way.

I really hope that Facebook allows businesses to add their URLs to these pages, at minimum. I also hope for the sake of my clients who have hundreds of locations that there might be some method for claiming Places via a bulk upload or bulk claim (Facebook personnel, please write to us on this blog if there is a method for doing this, since phonecalls out to dozens of outlets is not really viable).

One other method of engaging with customers who checkin at your business has arisen – within a day of the rollout of Facebook Places, Topguest has integrated it to create a mashup loyalty program + checkin service.

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One thought on “New Local Marketing Dimension: Facebook Places for Businesses

  1. Check out pages 5-6 of the Facebook Places Guide for Businesses for some brief notes on merging your Place Page with your existing Fan Page to achieve a richer design and experience with Places.

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