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Facebook Places launches in the US

Like Foursquare, the aim of Facebook Places is to “check-in” as you travel throughout your day, letting people know where you are or if you have found something cool.

Here’s how Facebook Places works. On the assumption that your mobile phone has GPS functionality, you just have to decide whether you want to receive offers freely or just when you “check in”.

As you go about your daily routine, you will either be presented with special offers based on your preferences (i.e. it’s 12pm, you like sushi and you are 500 metres away from a sushi restaurant with a free table and a 20 per cent discount) or you can check in and be presented with offers when you want them.

You can also receive alerts when you’re near your friends. There’ll be some kind of barcode technology, possibly a QR code, so establishments can just scan your phone to generate more data.

I know it is all a bit Big Brother but remember that mobile phone companies have known where we are for years and CCTV tracks us every day. As long as we can opt in or opt out, it’s nothing new.

This is the ideal time to create a first-mover advantage for your business. Every time someone checks in at your place of work, or even recommends you, their online friends will know about it, creating massive brand awareness. When companies offer discounts or free merchandise in return for a check in, people queue for ages.

To make sure you really win, don’t be passive. Put signs up reminding people to check in – and add a little bribe of a discount to make sure they do.

Guy Levine is CEO of Return On Digital, a leading digital marketing company offering social media campaigns

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