How to Use Facebook Places for Your Small Business
If you aren’t familiar with Facebook Places, it is an extremely handy geo-location tool which was originally designed to assist users with the sharing of some of their favorite locations, as well as to discover newly appreciated locations. When you check-in at one of these sites, regardless of whether it’s a small boutique shop, a movie theater, or a major metro area, you can share updates with friends and other connections, and these updates will include a map and pin identifying your exact location.
This can be extremely useful for small businesses, especially as a mobile marketing tool. Once you set up a location for your business, it becomes much easier for people to describe and share their experiences with your business, as well as to direct friends and other connections right to your doorstep. The great thing about this of course, is that the more visitors you get who provide these kind of updates through Facebook Places, the more agents you will have in the field working for you, to advertise your business.
All it will cost you is some time and effort to set up your Facebook Page and add your business to Facebook Places, and you will essentially have a vast army of people out there, praising your business for no charge whatsoever. Here’s what you have to do to take advantage of this awesome business opportunity, and to reap the benefits of all that free advertising.
How Facebook Places operates
Any time a user wants to insert a post to the Facebook app, a display pops up and gives them the option to add the location they’re at. If they choose to do so by pressing the provided button, the app will then display a list of locations which happen to be nearby, which they can choose from. If the appropriate location doesn’t appear in the list, the user will have the option to type one in. Once they have selected or typed in their location, the user will then have the option of including some text remarks, some photos, or to tag some of their friends in the post.
What Facebook Places can do for you
Check-ins by users are extremely useful for local businesses, because they can significantly increase your visibility on Facebook, thereby making it far easier for new and existing customers to locate your business. When users provide updates about your business and share them with friends, it provides a kind of social proof that you do have a worthwhile enterprise going, and that it is worth visiting. It means a lot that this update comes from a visitor rather than from your business page, because Facebook users will always see posts generated by their friends at the top of their feeds.
Facebook also provides a feature to users called Place Tips, which can provide visitors with little snippets of information about those locations they’ve visited. Some examples are including a few lines from a restaurant menu, or a special themed cocktail at a club which many visitors have found appealing. The basic function of Place Tips is to summarize the most talked about content from visitors, and display it for the benefit of others.
Facebook Places vs Facebook Pages
These two features may sound similar, but they are definitely very different. You don’t automatically have a Facebook Place listing by virtue of having a Facebook Business Page. It is however, possible to merge these two such that when visitors do check in at your location, people who click on the post would automatically be directed to your Business Page. Facebook Places was separate from Facebook Pages for a very long time, but eventually Facebook realized that it would be convenient for businesses to exercise greater control, by having a Page and a Place which were unified. These two can be merged if you have control over both of them.
Adding your business
There are a couple different ways you can participate in Facebook Places, and get your business signed up. If you’re just creating a new Facebook Page, you can select Local Business as your category, and then you’ll have the option of adding in your address, before Facebook automatically connects your Page with your location.
It’s also possible for others to add your location at the time that they check in. If Places have already been added for your business, all you’d have to do is search for your business name, and then check for results which have been included under Places. If there are some, you can click on any one of them, after which you will be directed to the Page, where you will see a link labeled Know the Owner? Selecting this will guide you through the process of claiming the Place, so it becomes directly associated with your Facebook Page.
Getting the most out of Facebook Places
There’s are some really clever ways you can get the most out of your Facebook Places, if you just give it some thought. For instance, you might offer a free donut to all customers of your donut shop who show their Facebook check-in when they have placed an order. Any kind of discount or freebie that you provide visitors with in exchange for posting about your business, can be extremely beneficial in terms of advertising.
You can also encourage more check-ins by ensuring that visitors to your establishment have a great experience, and then letting them know that you would appreciate a check-in or a post about your company. You can do this in person if you like, or you can set up signs around your business place which let them know about the promotion. When customers are really impressed with a business, either in a positive or negative way, that’s when they tend to create a post, and share it with friends. It’s up to you to make sure that the posts they share are positive ones which extol the virtues of your business.