Facebook launched Facebook Places in the UK a few months ago but if you’ve never heard of it, I’m not TOO surprised. It followed the path of two much more focused players in the location-game – Foursquare and Gowalla. These two, particularly Foursquare, have been very successful social networks for users of smartphones with GPS, such as iPhones and Android devices, that allowed people not only to chat to friends, but also let them know WHERE they were.
HIDE AND SEEK
If you are not already involved, it sounds creepy. It can be! But then remind yourself that so did blogging, Twitter and Facebook itself until you became involved (as I guess you will have by now). Negative, pleaserobme games aside, these location based services offered several benefits:
- USERS could add SPECIFIC location information to their messages to friends. When you “check-in” you are not just broadcasting a location, you are adding location information to a message. Subtle, but important difference
- FANS could share their favourite locations, or those that they discovered, with more people in order to promote the location – doing a free marketing ‘favour’ for the location
- BUSINESSES could reward fans by offering them discounts for their loyalty and for sharing the information with their friends
- BUSINESSES could also gather information on who was visiting and when, what they liked/disliked and what they were interested in, in order to improve their services
Remember, you can check in and NOT broadcast every single one to the world on twitter – only do so if it adds value to the conversation!
My favourite places to check in are local shops (I want to promote local business), the better restaurants and bars I go to that have good food and wine (because that’s what a lot of my followers are interested in) and unusual locations I end up around the world. I also like to check in (and not broadcast it though twitter) in places where I might have the time to meet up with other friends also checking in – airports, events, hotels, etc.
SHOW ME THE MONEY
When Facebook arrived, it seemed natural to add these activities to the list of things you share on Facebook, but there is so much there already it got rather lost (and was never as engaging). So why would users it on Facebook instead, … and why bother trying to use more than one network?
Gowalla offers regular users virtual “items”, “pins” and “stamps” to collect. Foursquare trumped this with “Mayorships” and then moved into location- & mayorship-based special offers.
Facebook needed to do something to incentivise users to switch, and instead of building something “better” they’ve decided to appeal to our love of free stuff.
LETS SHARE SOME WINE, HERE
I encourage businesses involved in wine to take part.
- It helps your regular customers, who obviously appreciate you, to share information about you with their friends
- You can reward them in some way, even if it is just a personal “thank you” for this word of mouth marketing
- You can learn more about your customers to improve your own range of wine, your events and especially your communication
- Producers can become engaged and learn where their wines are being sold & consumed
So what will be the first wine based offer in the UK? I’m guessing it will either be a big brand that is aware enough of these opportunities and has the deep pockets and distribution in place to do something worthwhile OR it will be a small deal by a small group of locations that can move a lot faster, such as a small chain of restaurants (any takers?). I look forward to seeing who gets in there first.
Wine offers and discounts have been the supermarket’s bait for so long that consumers are already used to thinking of wine as something to look out for only when discounted, so I would not be surprised to see it.
DEAL OR NO DEAL?
What I find worrying is that if Facebook Deals succeeds it will probably kill off the early movers which will also end the altruistic value exchange which was, for some of us at least, the best bit of these services. “Why bother checking in if they’re not offering me a deal?”
It’s the UK supermarket muscle game all over again.
They tell us “it what the consumer wants”, but when they kill off all the alternatives, we don’t really have a choice.
I think I shall hold off taking part, personally, until I see how they develop it. How about you?
- Facebook Deals hits UK today | Electricpig (electricpig.co.uk)
- Starbucks, Mazda and Argos sign up for Facebook Deals – Brand Republic News (brandrepublic.com)
- Facebook Places Deals to offer location-based discounts (telegraph.co.uk)
- The Growth of Foursquare In an Infographic (mindjumpers.com)