Thursday, August 19, 2010

5 Ways Facebook Places Will Change the Marketing Game

Facebook's new Places feature is live, and it's bringing a whole new dimension to the world's most talked about social network.

Advertisers, for now, are out of luck. In a live reveal of the technology Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder of Facebook, explained that the technology needs to be perfected (finding friends, checking-in and building stories about places via @benparr) before bringing FourSquare-like deals to the table.

When it happens - and happen it will - what can brands and agencies expect from the new technology? Here's my predictions and trends for location and deal based app marketing:

1) Deep group discounting
Facebook Places let's you check in your friends (unless they disable the feature in privacy settings). Expect brands and venues to begin offering deep discounts for large groups of friends checked in at the same time. Want 20% off your entire meal? Get at least 8 of your friends checked in on Places and reap the rewards!

2) Swarm behavior
Allowing you to see where your friends are every second of the day is a big benefit to Facebook's shiny new toy. I suspect that within 5 years being location aware of your network will be as ubiquitous as having a mobile phone. Until then expect advertisers to take advantage of swarming behavior by offering up to the second and unpublicized deals through Places. Business is down for the day? Seed a 50% off promotion through Facebook Places for the next 60 minutes and watch as the information achieves viral status and causes a swarm to appear in your venue.

3) Competitive cherry-picking
Businesses will need to be on their Places game to avoid losing valuable customers. The businesses that fail to adopt or understand how Facebook places work will become low hanging fruit for tech savvy competitors offering killer deals and discounts.

4) Privacy backlash
When businesses begin harvesting Facebook information about their visitors based on Places it's going to raise some major privacy concerns. The best way to avoid being the scapegoat for yet another Facebook privacy outrage is to play by the common sense rules of marketing in the age of social technology. Only contact people who have selected to receive your communications and bring tangible value to the table with each message. I suspect nightlife and entertainment venues will be among the first to ignite the collective wailing.

5) Social CRM
Social technologies bring a bold new dimension to CRM programs. Ensure yours will be compatible with Facebook Places and that you have built in processes to grab and analyze trends from the geolocation view.

For an overview of Facebook Places including how to use the new features click here.

Nick Kinports (follow him on Twitter @ADMAVEN) has worked in the interactive technology world for over 15 years, and helps the Fortune 100 identify unmet consumer needs, create ideas to fill those needs, and bring them into market. He currently works at Maddock Douglas.
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