When Facebook first launched Places, there was lots of confusion around how you could mange both your Place and your business Page. Many businesses chose to merge their Place and their Page, but this caused even more confusion, with lost functionality and little you could do to reverse it. They briefly allowed you to unmerge, but then recinded this. Now though, according to Inside Facebook, they have rolled out a change for businesses that list a physical location on their business Page, that allows you to automaticlly merge with your Place, bringing additional functionality onto the Page itself.
Enhanced features on the Page
As the screenshot below shows, many Pages now have an additional tab called 'Friend Activity' that allows you to see Places features such as how many people have checked in, and also Deals on the top right hand side. We've seen this update roll out for our client Pages outside of the U.S. , confirming that this is an automatic add-on for Pages. This update is particularly significant, as it gives businesses an easy way to promote their Checkin Deals to fans, and encourage traffic from Facebook to the actual business premise :
Though Checkin Deals are still in beta for many countries, requiring a minimum ad spend to qualify, businesses in the U.S. may now see the option to add a Deal, once they've automatically integrated the Places functionality. This is a significant move from Facebook, as it allows their Checkin Deals option to become even easier for brands to use, obviously meaning that Facebook can stake their claim even more in the location space. Even those companies that might not want to utilise location services, will now practically be forced to, as the automatic merging will add this functionality to the Page. Smart businesses show make the most of this, and encourage people both to their actual business location, and back to the Page again. Now Places is going to feature so much more prominently in your Page itself, you should use this to the maximum instead of allowing it to be 'dead space' on your Page.
Facebook is everywhere
A clear benefit of this for Facebook is that it allows them to tap into users everywhere and be present both offline and online. With the forced rollout of Places for businesses, Facebook are directly communicating the benefit of location based services to users. They are subsequently encouraging people to use Facebook again once they've logged off, by claiming a deal when they check in via their mobile. We've seen Facebook make moves like this before, with the rollout of their Like button bringing the Facebook experience across the web. I wouldn't underestimate this move from Facebook, as the end result is essentially the same - Facebook slowly appearing everywhere, even when you're not on the site. The message is clear - businesses have little choice but to embrace location services!