Facebook Places is going to be huge for businesses. It already is. You've probably been hearing about all of the opportunities that come with check-in apps like Foursquare, Gowalla, etc. Facebook has half a billion users. This takes things to a whole new level.
Do you intend to take advantage of Facebook Places for your business? Tell us about it.
Now, not all of those users are using Places or even Facebook on mobile devices, but that doesn't mean these users won't see updates about people checking into your business from their friends.
For the people that do use Places from their mobile devices, they're presented with a list of nearby locations to check into any time they push the Places link. If you're nearby, that means you. Clearly this opens a huge window for enticing customers to check into your place. You can offer discounts or other offers/incentives for some pretty good branding and word-of-mouth marketing.
Once a person checks into your business, that is put into the news feed of all of their friends. Those friends (not to mention the person checking in) can then go to your Place page and "like" it. I'm sure you can see the potential this feature has.
Localeze provides business listings for Facebook Places, so that's something else to consider. "Facebook is quickly becoming an important piece of a local business' footprint giving them more visibility for current and potential customers," said Localeze President Jeff Beard. "Facebook Places is a very powerful social tool for businesses and consumers alike."
WebProNews blog partner Chris Silver Smith has a good article about how local businesses can take advantage of Facebook Places, and simply getting familiar with them from a business standpoint. As mentioned in a previous article, Greg Sterling also has an interesting comparison between Facebook Places and Google Places.
There has been a lot of talk about how Facebook Places will impact Foursquare, and the jury is still out on that one. Foursquare appears to be going along for the ride, letting its service be integrated with Facebook's. Still, "check-in fatigue" may come into the picture, and users (Facebook has many more) may find it less and less necessary to utilize third party services to check in. Facebook could very well steamroll the "friendly competition".
There's an outside chance that Facebook could really help Foursquare and the like. Foursquare's numbers reportedly shot up on the launch of Facebook Places, but I suspect this is just a getting-to-know-you kind of affair as the check-in concept was introduced to a much bigger user base. It will be interesting to see how those numbers hold up over time.
As a business, I wouldn't immediately start ignoring Foursquare, though you may want to consider putting Facebook front and center when it comes to your customer check-in strategy. There's a much better chance your customers are Facebook users than Foursquare users.
Will Foursquare reamain relevant? Tell us what you think.