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Online Buzz: Check-in or check-out

Since my last article where I discussed the social media platform Foursquare, location-based services have taken off.

Facebook Places

There are currently five billion mobile users worldwide with some people predicting that the mobile web will outgrow desktop in five years. The reason being that the way people access the World Wide Web is changing as simpler, sleeker devices come into play. People still spend time on the internet but instead of doing so on their desktop or laptop, they are accessing it from apps on their smartphone, iPad, etc.

Location-based services, which allow people to tell their followers where they are, were worth $96 million in 2009 and the market is predicated to be worth $512 million in 2012 (Forrester Research).

Social media platform Facebook has recently launched Facebook Places in the US (coming to Australia soon) to compete with Foursquare and capitalise on this growing market. The one thing that Facebook has going for it in this market is that it already has a significant user base, unlike Foursquare and other similar applications.

Facebook Places, unlike Foursquare, actually allows you to not only check-in yourself, but also check your friends in (for those who either can't be bothered or don't have compatible devices).

There seem to be two ways to look at the launch of Facebook Places: an amazing new social media feature or a massive invasion of privacy.

An amazing new feature?

Facebook Places, unlike Foursquare, allows businesses to reach out to mainstream consumers, not just early adopters who are located near their premises.

There are still many questions about the continuing development of Facebook Places including whether you will be able to target ads based on location and whether you will be able to leverage some location information using Facebook Connect (a service whereby you use your Facebook login for every website where Connect is available). It is highly likely that Facebook will enable these features which will make the business application of Places significant.

A massive invasion of privacy?

Facebook is known for causing a stir with privacy issues and the launch of Facebook Places is no exception. Early on there were rumours that the location setting was going to be switched on as default, however, Facebook is now saying that the first time someone is tagged through 'Places', they will be given the choice to allow their friends to check them into places or not. Following this, when a friend tags them, they will receive a notification on Facebook and on their mobile device.

Will you use Facebook Places once it is launched in Australia?

For more information on developing a social media strategy for your business, contact us.

By Petra Aitken | @petra_aitken



 
 
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