Small and medium-sized businesses have now had a few years to incentivize the "check-in." Between Foursquare, Facebook, and other networks that offer location broadcasting, businesses have found that check-ins can lead to social buzz. And because check-ins get their business' name floating around social networks, they will sometimes offer specials to customers for their check-ins.
Now, a new program from Facebook is allowing small businesses to trade their Wi-Fi for check-ins.
The very small test was first unearthed by Tom Waddington, who has a history of rooting Facebook tests and secrets out of code. What he found was a new category for "like sources" among the page insights. The new source was called "Social Wi-Fi," and the description reads as follows:
"People who liked your Page after checking in via Facebook Wi-Fi.”
"Facebook Wi-Fi." Facebook confirmed the small test to Inside Facebook:
"We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a Wi-Fi router that is designed to offer a quick and easy way to access free Wi-Fi after checking in on Facebook. When you access Facebook Wi-Fi by checking in, you are directed to your local business’s Facebook Page.”
So - check-in, get access to Wi-Fi. Pretty simple. Facebook provides the router and the business provides the internet. Facebook's statement makes it clear that this is not a "like-gated" wi-fi program. Hopefully, for small businesses, the checking-in will lead to likes, but customers wouldn't have to like the page to receive the wi-fi.
Of course, Facebook runs tons of tests all the time, many of which never see primetime. But this seems like a logical evolution of the Facebook check-in. Do you think small businesses could benefit from a check-in gateway that directs wi-fi-seekers to their Facebook pages?[Lead Image Courtesy erikadotnet, Flickr]