Facebook Places’ potential for brands lies in combinations

New Media Age’s Charlotte McEleny explains that Facebook’s move into location-based services could be a huge opportunity for brands, but only when it’s integrated into its other features.

Since the US launch of Places last week much has been said about how Facebook will bring location-based services to a more mainstream audience, particularly if it can avoid a storm of controversy around privacy. Wider take-up of location is likely – just comparing Foursquare’s 3m global users with the fact that 10m people in the UK alone access Facebook exclusively via mobile shows the potential.

What’s interesting for brands, however, is not the possibility of having a straightforward location-based service (albeit on a large scale), it’s how location will tie into the other services Facebook offers. An obvious synergy is with Facebook Answers: integrating location into a question-and-answer service would be attractive for brands. For example, they could respond to questions about DIY based on the person’s location by suggesting a local branch to buy products from.

Giving value back to consumers is a staple of social media and something that location suits well, particularly when tied into a loyalty programme. Facebook Credits, the social network’s virtual currency, expands this potential further. Instead of offering money off, brands could offer Facebook Credits as an incentive for checking in with a business.

At the moment the service is pretty basic but I have no doubt that, as consumers start to get used to location and any problems with privacy have died down, Facebook will start to integrate location into its other services. Furthermore, over the next few months third-party applications will launch incorporating Places functionality by using Facebook’s API. This is when brands can begin to be innovative and use Places to give real value to their customers.

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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