Facebook Places, Badges and Then Some

I spent some time this week playing around with Facebook‘s new Places functionality, going against FourSquare, et al. Some first impressions:

The Nearby feature isn’t as robust as in other iPhone apps such as Yelp‘s. I often found myself having to search for where I currently was standing in Facebook vs. Yelp pretty much having my current location in the first page of their results (i.e. Girl and the Goat).

It makes more sense to check into Places vs. Yelp. Your friends are on Facebook (most are) and check there a couple times a day. Yelp? I really only go there when I’m looking for a new place to check out (not to check in with friends)

How do I check out? Facebook says you are “are at” somewhere, but doesn’t give a way for you to “check out” of somewhere. Presumably this gets updated when you check in at the next place you go to. However I’m not that OCD about checking in everywhere I go, and certainly not when I get home (privacy)

Speaking of Privacy. Facebook’s default settings are set to publish publicly when you check in somewhere. In my case I first tried it at Binny’s, a liquor store here in Chicago. While there, I could see some other guy was checked in too! (creepy!). Might come in handy when looking for your friends at the mall or at the nightclub, but in mass social situations, call me an introvert, I’d rather stay in the background. Luckily you can change this setting in your Facebook privacy settings, so only your friends (not the whole world) can see when you’re presently somewhere, or recently there.

Finally, what’s in it for me? I’ve heard stories about people not wanting to leave town so they don’t lose their “mayor” status, but if business’ aren’t giving premiums for loyalty (i.e. similar to your swipe card at the grocery store), why fanatically check in everywhere you go?

Further, if you’re a local business trying to jump on this “check in” bandwagon, which wagon do you jump in on? Facebook, FourSquare, or Yelp? As with everything, test, test and test some ‘mo. It’s easy to set up monitoring of your popularity on these networks. If you see one spiking over the others, consider sticking your toe in the water and offering a deal for frequent customers.

Interesting note, while signing up for FourSquare, it asks your “hometown” and then uses that as your current location. Maybe I’m an anomaly, but I moved away from my hometown?

Check back next week for our experience notes on FourSquare!

Filed under Social Media

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Eric Gockel

Eric Gockel