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5 Reasons Why Facebook Places Is Kind of a Big Deal

facebook placesFacebook announced what can clearly be called a “me too” location check in function yesterday, but hey, when you have half a billion people using something, even a copied innovation can have huge immediate impact. Facebook Places is a smart-phone location check-in feature that allows users to share their location, find the location of their friends, and discover new places based on other Facebook user recommendations – much like Loopt, Foursquare and Yelp! provide.

To get started, you’ll need the most recent version of the Facebook application for iPhone. (As of last night you had to search and download as it was not showing up as an update) You also can access Places from touch.facebook.com if your mobile browser supports HTML 5 and geolocation. A lot of information about how this service works is still evolving (Only available in the US right now as well) but you here’s the current FAQ page from Facebook

This is a big deal because location check-in has exploded as a habitual way of connecting and it stands to reason that a large number of people using Gowalla and Foursquare today will migrate their location check-ins to the network where they spend most of their time already – Facebook. This move kind of makes my status as the Mayor of my local coffee shop look a whole lot less interesting.

Facebook seems very invested in this function and were adamant about the fact that users will have the ability to set and restrict privacy using Places. By default your checkins will go to your profile and news stream. If you want to change who can see your checkins, go to your account’s privacy settings. You’ll see that “Places I check in” is by default shared with “Friends Only.” You can change who views your checkins from this area.

Why It’s a Big Deal for Business

  • Facebook is building a suite of advertising tools that will allow you to list, claim and advertise your place on Facebook
  • You no longer have to educate your customers – they all know what Facebook is
  • People checking in at your business are naturally telling some part of the word about your business
  • Offering coupons and special offers for people who check in is a natural way to tap the power of using online tools to drive offline sales.
  • Data that you can collect on users and amount of times they checkin will prove extremely valuable in tracking customers and advertising spend

If your business is not already listed on Places you can add it by following these instructions. The roll-out is a bit spotty across the US today, but my guess is that by next week people will be Places happy.

Turning an Email Address Into a Social Profile

Marketing podcast with Ethan Bloch (Click to play or right click and “Save As” to download – Subscribe now via iTunes

Imagine this scenario. You run an ad that directs someone to your landing page for a free report. They fill out the form, providing only their email address, and fifteen seconds later you receive an alert that tells you this person is a very high profile blogger, connector and influencer in your industry – just the kind of person you are looking for to pilot your new white labeled service.

flowtownThe process described above is no longer fiction due to an innovative new service called Flowtown. In this week’s episode of the Duct Tape Marketing Podcast I visited with Flowtown cofounder and CEO Ethan Bloch. Flowtown’s mission, according to Bloch, is to help businesses paint a really rich story about their customers by appending each customer’s social media activity to their record. Or, as they put it on their website – turn an email into a social profile. I equate this to the high tech version of the salesperson of past days that knew how to quickly establish some sort of common ground with a prospect or customer.

The use of social data in the business world has become so essential and so expected that I believe the day is coming when customer and prospects will assume you know a great deal about them and expect that they can discover a great deal about the people and companies that they are considering working with through their own social networks.

Bloch shares a quote from his cofounder Dan Martell that I think is so true these days – “you already know everyone you need to know, you just don’t know who they are”

The power of Flowtown is simplicity and the growing number of integrations with service providers such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor, Wufoo, and Unbounce.

In case you hadn’t gathered, I think Flowtown is a tool that every marketer needs in the toolbox.

The Duct Tape Marketing Podcast is brought to you by Fairfield Inn & Suites Small Business Road-to-Success Challenge

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