As proved by Starbucks and Converses and use of the word ‘movie’, you can bet you you bottom dollar (pound) that if the American’s are drinking/wearing/doing it, it won’t be long before we are too.
Launched last Thursday, and currently only available in the States, is the new Facebook application ‘Facebook Places’. Places allows you to ‘check in’ at your current location, giving friends the opportunity to see your whereabouts immediately. Are you coincidently attending the same event? Brilliant! Have you skipped their dull birthday ‘do to attend something far more glamorous? Not so brilliant…
As if this wasn’t likely to become addictive enough, you can also tag those that are with you, like you would in a photo or status update, as well as browse other people who are checked in at the same place. Obviously, this has raised numerous privacy issues – something which the site is all too familiar with dealing with.
But what’s the implication for small businesses? Aside making it even easier for skiving employees to be caught out by a social networking slip-up, there are several advantages to using geolocation technology.
Twitter has offered geolocation for tweets since last year, as well as its ‘local trends’ feature allowing local business the ability to promote themselves as a ‘trending topic’. Location tagging network Foursquare also found popularity with small businesses, many which used the opportunity as a free platform to get themselves noticed amongst local customers. Of course, now that Facebook’s caught up, the site’s tendency to crush its competitors (i.e. The Myspace Effect) could see changes in the way geolocation is implemented elsewhere.
Facebook’s huge online presence means this latest development is likely to be even more effective for small businesses aiming to benefit from geolocation technology. Businesses in less commercial regions are advised to offer incentives to customers on geolocation networks in order to generate interest and draw people in from more tech-savvy areas. Teaming up with other local businesses to do this can be even more profitable for the companies involved, as well as the local area.
Geolocation content also has the advantage of operating in realtime, and by featuring in conjunction with social networking sites it offers businesses the opportunity to utilise valuable social interaction. Many businesses already use static location services, such as GPS, but the social aspect of applications such as Facebook Places are much more effective when it comes to networking opportunities.
Of course, businesses (large or small) will be well aware that no amount of advertising can beat social recommendations from real people, and Facebook Places could well be the answer into generating such valuable publicity. Yet whether a rise in corporate use of geolocation technology from those keen to make their make their mark using social media might result in little more then irritating promotional advertisements and more organised after-work socials is yet to be seen.