Last night Facebook officially announced “Facebook Places” allowing however many millions of Facebook users there are, to now check in directly through Facebook. Hooray! Geo-location has now been distributed to the masses instead of reserved for the tech-geeks stalking each other with Foursquare/Gowalla/Loopt. Only a few folks (iPhone users) seem to have this feature at this point, but there are some immediate issues that businesses are going to have to keep an eye on.
Facebook Pages v. Community Pages v. Places
I noticed this with Anvil’s Facebook presence. We have an official page that we’ve created. Then a few months ago Facebook rolled out Community pages, and now we have Place pages. Anvil has all three.
What, as a small business, am I to do about this? Well, you can’t do anything. On your community page you can be notified when Facebook is “ready for your help”. The community page is linked to all your employees accounts that list your business in the “Work and Education” of their personal profiles.
Now with the Place pages, you can claim these listings if you are an official representative of that company. But you do have to provide one of the following:
- Articles of Certificate of Incorporation (for a corporation)
- Certificate of Formation (for a partnership)
- Local Business License (issued by your city, county, or state)
- Better Business Bureau (BBB) Accreditation
With all of Facebook’s privacy issues I’m sure companies are going to be thrilled to be providing Facebook with those documents (you need to actually upload a file). I’m unsure at this point what happens when you have successfully claimed your place page, and if you can then merge it with your original page or not. Update (according to Search Engine Land, eventually they will *”in a majority of cases”) So problem #1 – companies now have multiple pages on Facebook to manage instead of one fully built out page.
Place Pages Overwhelming Brand Pages
Problem #2 is more relevant to large brands with multiple stores. Think of all the major retailers who have built a strong brand presence on Facebook through pages. They will now also have individual pages for each brick and mortar location where someone can check in. Ugh, a nightmare right? Every Best Buy, Gap, Nordstrom, Starbucks physical location is now going to have a place page. On the bright side, there isn’t much that users can post to Place pages at this point – just check-ins with the user’s commentary. There is no kind of wall functionality or photos to monitor for reputation management purposes. It does make me wonder if some of those brand pages will be overlooked by individual place pages moving forward.
At this point in the game we’ll have to wait until the check-in feature rolls out to other phones and if Facebook users adopt this feature in the droves that Facebook predicts. Please feel free to share any experiences you’re having with Facebook pages interacting with Place pages.