Friday, August 27, 2010

Checking In with Facebook Places

Facebook Positions Itself for Future Growth

In recent months, Facebook has moved to position itself as more than just a way for its users to interact with other people and brands, but now also as a venue for users to interact with and discuss places and activities.

Community Pages

The first addition we have seen is Community Pages, and Facebook is calling them “the best collection of shared knowledge on a topic”. Think Wikipedia, minus the user editing capabilities. Facebook populates the walls of these pages by pulling posts from other user’s profiles that contain the particular term that the Community Page is based on. We can help them collect other information to add to our client's Community Page by submitting website URL's and Wikipedia page links (if applicable). Facebook is also currently inviting users to apply to add content to these pages later on. From what I have read, Facebook intends to eventually allow users to upload their photos to the page. At this point, though, it seems like Communities have a long way to go before they feel anything like an actual community.

Facebook Places:

Much like Foursquare, a Facebook Places page shows FB users a map of where the Place is located, a list of friends who are currently checked in at the Place (if any), and a Friend Activity stream of other friends who have visited the Place in the past. By claiming your FB Place, you can manage your Place’s address, contact information, business hours, profile picture, admins and other settings. Right now, Facebook Place pages exists completely independent of the Facebook Fan page that we’re using to engage and connect with our business’s followers.

I am getting word that we will be able to merge Fan Page listings with Facebook Place pages at a later date. There’s quite a hefty claiming process to set the stage for the eventual merger, but once it’s done, the new Place Page as your business’s identity on Facebook. You will eventually have one page that users can interact with and check in at.

Thoughts and resources:

  • One of the issues I can see Community Pages facing in the future is when a product/brand/place/interest does not have a unique name. Facebook may populate the community page with recents posts pertaining to another topic of the same name.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Loyalty 2.0

Over the course of the last few months, my rants on the subject of social media have become something of a norm on the blog. Much of my enthusiasm is invoked by what I see as unlimited potential for brands to benefit from these emerging platforms. As an advertiser, I believe we have the most opportunity to reach consumers through location-based social networks (LBS) like Foursquare, Gowalla, and the newly released Facebook Places.

Initially, I wasn’t sure that platforms like 4sq would ever be utilized outside of metropolitan cities. As LBS have evolved, it has become evident that I was way off with my initial evaluation. I was looking at these applications as a consumer, when I should have been looking for the opportunities in location-based services as an advertiser.

Having joined 4sq early in its early stages, the infrastructure was not yet in place outside of cities like New York or San Francisco. Each of these LBS platforms are rendered useless unless they are adopted by the masses. The sub shop around the corner.. The bookstore a block over.. Until a user creates each of them as a venue in the LBS platform, we don’t have the ability to check-in there.

Initially it was just a game. A fun way to see where my friends were, and what bars/restaurants were “trending” with the most active users currently checked in. Then, in an instance, everything changed.

One day I was checking in to a burger joint when a notification in the platform jumped out at me, “Local Special Nearby” -My light bulb moment. Remember the days when you would need 9 whole punches on a frequent buyer card to receive your 10th sub free at your local sub shop? The ability to leverage location based social networks will take loyalty programs to new heights. If Facebook socialized the internet, Foursquare will socialize loyalty.

A few of the creative ways retailers have leveraged location-based social networks:

  • Miss Shirley's in Baltimore has seen a 427% increase in the number of check-in's at the restaurant since they have offered to let their Foursquare "mayor" jump to the head of the line.
  • A Princeton, New Jersey mall offers a free, close up parking spot to the Foursquare mayor:

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

What Sucks About Foursquare Today

While I am generally quick to label Foursquare and other location-based social networks as the future, I thought I would let the folks over at Jess3 play devil's advocate. I don't completely agree with their view, but they bring up some great points about a passive check-in model that cannot be ignored:
View more presentations from JESS3.

Thoughts and resources:
  • Jess3 is "a creative interactive agency that specializes in data visualization". Click here to visit their website.
  • Follow Jess3 on Twitter:

Friday, August 6, 2010

The State of the Internet:

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from JESS3 on Vimeo.

-Thanks Matt E.

UPDATE: Google Getting Visual Boost

Update: From my May 5th post on the leading minds in the field of data visualization (

Less than 6 months after leaving IBM's visual communications lab to create Flowing Media inc, Mark Wattenberg and Fernanda B Viegas announced this week that they were snatched up by Google to lead a new visualization group within the search giant. I am extremely excited to follow their progress with the "playgrounds of data" Google has collected.

Look for the visualization duo to impact Google in ways we could have never imagined. I personally, am keeping my fingers crossed for a Google Analytics upgrade!