Have you heard of Facebook Places? It’s a geo-location feature for mobile users in the same realm as Foursquare, but it works with your existing social graph within the Facebook platform.  There’s no need for a separate friend list or new technology/app.

Places lets you share more than a status update with your own stream. It also lets you tag others you’re with (so the update shows up in their stream, too) and tag the place where you are. If the place has a Facebook brand page and you type the page name recognized by the system, your “check in” registers on the brand page, too.

In essence, if a woman and two girl friends had lunch at a great bistro with its own Facebook page, they could:

  1. Snap a pic of the three of them hamming it up
  2. Upload the pic and a status update to one of their Facebook profiles
  3. Tag the other two friends and the restaurant
  4. Have the activity show up on three Facebook profiles and one Facebook brand page

Interestingly, the benefits to location-based activity within the Facebook platform is somewhat symbiotic between the individual users, the brand page, and, of course, Facebook.

  • Facebook becomes further entrenched in our daily activities. We no longer use word of mouth alone to share stories about fun times with friends – we publicize it to our entire social graph network. This kind of behavior creeps into the awareness of others, and soon they’re trying it. The behavior becomes part of our culture over time.
  • The users benefit from the kind of name-dropping formerly only available when talking over the water cooler. Bouyed by the all-telegraphing framework that is Facebook, we can publicize things to the far corners of our friendship lists without fear of reprisal. How can it be bragging when it’s just a status update?
  • Brands benefit because the check-in activity is shown directly on the brand page wall. The more check-ins there are, the “cooler” the brand appears. Check-ins subliminally encourage others to get over there and see what’s going on.

For businesses, an uptick in Facebook Places use brings other benefits, too. Facebook Deals, kissing cousin to Groupon social coupons, is a simple, way to promote local retail outlets (Groupon, on the other hand, has been discussed at great length regarding its questionable long-term value to participating companies).

Jodi Ks Facebook Deals

Whether your business is a bistro or clothing store, you can offer three types of deals to those who like your brand page:

  • Individual deal – a simple discount or gift with purchase
    • A nice simple perk; when promoted inside the retail outlet, could encourage new “likes” which will expose new people to future updates and promotions.
  • Friend deal – reward groups checking in together
    • Likely a richer deal because someone has to personally endorse the outlet with a friend; when trust is on the line, the reward should be in keeping with the gesture. A great organic way to increase a brand’s fan base.
  • Loyalty deal – encourage repeat visits and long-term brand support
    • The richest offer you can make. Should demonstrate the value your business places on loyal customers who repeatedly purchase your brand.

Have you tried Facebook Places yet? What could Places and Deals do to drive traffic to your local business?