An important development in the localised search field went live this week – thats right, Facebook have cranked up the local services they have on offer with the new Facebook Places.
So what is it?
Facebook places allows you to connect with friends and people around you – in real time via your smart phone.
How Do You Use It? Example – At a bar with friends.
At the bar, you open up Facebook mobile on your smart phone, tap ‘Places’ and Facebook plucks and saves your location via GPS – you’ve officially ‘checked in’. Then you can checkin tag your friends to that ‘Place’, the bar, and those Facebook users get added to the ‘Place’ group.
How is that useful?
I haven’t really figured out why you’d want to do that, other than feeding the Facebook database with more personal information.
Ok, so how about for advertisers?
Ah… Well, its a gold mine for advertisers. With this new addition to highly targeted local, real time advertising expect to see adverts when you start using Facebook Places.
You are at the bar and your group of friends are all checked into Places. Now, as an advertiser, imagine you own a pizza restaurant 100 yards from the bar. The pizza restaurant owner can send an advert for extra an large pizza (enough for a group of friends) a few hours after you made the Facebook Places check in.
We all know what happens after a few hours drinking beer, and I’m sure there is an optimal time to send that advert out based on when you checked in to Places.
Think I’m joking and it won’t happen?
Advertisers are set to spend $3.3 billion on social networking websites in 2010, with Facebook’s revenue to hit $1.2 billion in this year alone. This stuff is real – and advertisers value your ‘Really smashed with Johnboy in town’ updates.
As with most Facebook developments, Facebook have set all Facebook accounts to default into the privacy settings they (and more importantly their advertisers) want, which in a nutshell is open and willing to accept anything. So make sure you review your privacy settings following the launch of Places in the UK, in particular:
‘Customise Settings’ > ‘Things other share’
‘Customise Settings’ > ‘Include me in People Here now after I check in’
When you check in, your location is visible to your friends and another Facebook user around – people you don’t know. That weird girl at the bar with one eye and a strange twitch could know all about your favourite music and what you did last weekend.
If you’d rather be more private, you’ll have to opt out of this setting – or Facebook Places altogether.