Facebook Places will make location-based services mainstream, say experts

Facebook Places will encourage a wider audience to use location-based services, providing a big opportunity for brands, according to industry experts.

Yesterday Facebook announced its location-based service Facebook Places. It’s currently only available in the US but will be rolled out globally in the coming months.

It’s much like that of existing location-based services, such as Foursquare and Gowalla, in which people check-in at places using their mobile.

Neil Kleiner, head of social media at Havas Media Group, said that at the moment location-based services are predominately used by early adopters. “In the UK Facebook has 26m active users and 10m of them only access it though their mobiles. There are no barriers to adoption because users don’t have to get their heads round being a mayor, for example,” he said.

Adam Field, head of social media at media agency Media Contacts, said Facebook’s delay in announcing its move into location showed it was taking it seriously and watching what rivals Twitter and Google did first.

“It’s a big statement from Facebook saying it’s very serious about location,” he said. “But this does mean it’ll have to announce a monetisation strategy soon because brands are already keen to get involved quickly.”

Businesses will be able to signify whether certain places are theirs but Facebook hasn’t outlined a monetisation strategy yet.

Tim Whitlock, technical director at digital agency Public Creative, said, “At the moment it’s a case of claiming territory. Agencies need to start to consult on how to claim brands places.”

The default privacy setting is that only a user’s friends can see where they check-in, while this is set to everyone on other location services. Facebook has added a function of tagging multiple people into a check-in and while this defaults to automatic, users can opt out.

Graeme Wood, group digital associate director at media agency Carat, warned that brands should be wary of getting involved while any concerns around privacy are still strong.

“Brands need to tread really carefully, as with anything to do with location,” he said. “People use Foursquare with the purpose of telling others where they are, but members of Facebook joined for a very different reason. Brands should be careful of stepping in and broadcasting messages before users are comfortable with it.”

This story first appeared on newmediaage.co.uk

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