Facebook Places has launched in the UK, allowing both users and brands to tie location functionality into their use of the social network.
With the service going live in the UK, we’ve selected the key facts about the service that both brands and users need to know.
The product is currently available on iPhone and at touch.facebook.com to all UK users from today, allowing them to check in at real-world locations, much like Foursquare or Gowalla. Facebook said it’s working on rolling it out to other smartphone devices, such as BlackBerry and Android handsets.
There are no major changes to the service since it rolled out in the US last month (nma.co.uk 19 August 2010), but both UK users and businesses can now take advantage of location on Facebook.
Users can log into the service and see a list of local Places. If a location isn’t on the list, you can create a new Place to check in at. You can also tag people you’re with in your status.
If you’re checked in at a location and a friend checks in nearby, you receive a notification, which Facebook says will help people to meet up and connect in the real world as well as online.
- At the moment, brands can claim Places pages because they operate in a similar way to normal Facebook pages.
- Brands can adopt a Place, which would then be merged with a business’s Facebook page, updated with a new design. Once merged, the page will include Places information, such as maps, and show people who have recently checked in. Core content like photos, videos and events will also remain.
- Because they work in the same way as pages, Places pages carry ads. These are targeted at users based on likes, interests and demographic information, so at present brands can’t advertise around particular Places, but can instead select user interests to target the ads on that may enable them to target certain pages. For example, you can’t target ads around local Starbucks branches but could target Londoners who have said they ‘like’ coffee.
- Facebook said, like the mobile apps and products, Places was created based on user behaviour and as such commercialisation of the service is something it’s looking into but doesn’t yet have solid plans for.
- Places is opt in. You don’t automatically have your location added, you have to manually check in.
- Others can tag you in status updates with location but you’re sent a notification and email which asks whether you want to enable this setting.
- Once opted in, check-ins are set to appear on friends’ news streams only, although people looking at a Place may be able to see that you’re ‘Here Now’.
- You can opt out of appearing in the Here Now section by altering the Places setting, which UK users now have within their privacy settings.
- Minor’s pages are automatically set to ‘only friends’ and this can’t be changed to ‘everyone’ while they’re under 18. On the Here Now section only friends can see if you’re at a particular location.
- Currently, users can’t tag photos or video taken with a location but Facebook said this is a feature, among many, that it’s looking into incorporating.
Henry Elliss, associate director of social media at search and social agency Tamar
“We’ve been working with a number of clients on campaigns utilising both Foursquare and Gowalla, and now Facebook Places too. People are naturally hesitant about jumping in head first, but some brave brands are quite keen to give it a try. I personally think they’re brilliant for brand exposure, particularly to/for early adopters. A number of our retail clients are asking us to look into their existing locations, from the point of view of managing the brand reputation, optimising existing spots and working on other more exciting uses too.”
Joshua March, CEO of iPlatform, one of the agencies on Facebook’s preferred developer list
“For developers, Places gives an easy base to build location-based apps and services. In the same way that the Facebook platform allowed social games to take off in a huge way, Places paves the way for widespread adoption of location services. This will massively increase adoption and decrease barriers to entry for location-based apps. For brands, the main value will be the utility that they can now get from third-party services, such as Foursquare. I’m sure there’ll be a flurry of agencies building campaign-based location apps; these have a much better chance of succeeding now there’s a wider platform underlying them, although the real value will be in point-of-sale offers and promotions.”