Facebook “Place Tips” Challenge Yelp and Foursquare

In case you missed it, Facebook recently announced the network would be introducing a new feature for iOS users called “Place Tips,” in mobile News Feeds. This post will give you a high level overview of the new feature and the potential implications for brands.

Let’s get started.

What are Facebook Place Tips?

In a nutshell, Facebook place tips will serve users relevant local information at the top of their newsfeed when they are at a specific location.  These notifications will serve contextually relevant information, including friend’s photos and posts about the location, in addition to information from the place (such as recent posts from its page, upcoming events, reviews, and general information).

Facebook Place Tips Screenshot

How Place Tips Work

Facebook started testing this new feature on January 29th, and like many other announcements, will continue testing before rolling out to brands.  Right now, the test is only available through the Facebook app for iPhone and Place Tips are primarily being rolled out to a handful of New York small businesses and tourist locations, like Strand Book Store, Dominique Ansel Bakery, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, Brooklyn Bridge, and JFK airport.

According to Facebook, “Your location is determined using cellular networks, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Facebook Bluetooth beacons.”

Opportunities for Brands

There are many opportunities this announcement could bring for brands.  Quite obviously, Facebook is encroaching on the existing product offerings of Yelp and Foursquare.  However, the compelling part for marketers is that Facebook brings reach and scale to the equation.  With Facebook reaching nearly 84% of its 890 million daily users through their mobile devices – Facebook may bring to life what Yelp and Foursquare have been attempting to deliver: highly targeted and contextual content and information to a user based on their location.

The following are few opportunities brands should take note of:

  • Targeted mobile advertising & offers: Advertisers could eventually have the ability to serve ads or offers through Place Tips that are more relevant based on a user’s location.  This is a marketer’s dream.
  • Social proof impacting sales:  With Place Tips serving up UGC (user generated content), reviews, and content from others they know, a user is provided not only with location specific content but with compelling social proof from others they trust. Pairing this content with branded content is an effective strategy that should impact sales.
  • Message visibility:  With Place Tips appearing at the top of the News Feed, marketers could gain back valuable visibility in a user’s News Feed.  This is a clever way to deliver messages without depending on traditional “push notifications” through most applications.
  • Facebook Bluetooth Beacons: With this announcement, Facebook has mentioned “Facebook Bluetooth Beacons”, a move that suggests that Facebook wants to lead more retailers to beacon implementation so they have a more fool-proof way to delivering place tips.  This could help lead more widespread adoption of beacon technology, opening up numerous marketing opportunities.Facebook Bluetooth Beacon

Limitations for Brands

While this feature is really helpful for small businesses, Facebook still has a lot of work to do to make this scalable and attractive to large brands.  The following are the major limitations for brands at this point in time.

  • Scaling up for large brands and retailers: Right now place tips are tied to Facebook pages associated with individual locations. Over the years, many large brands have consolidated these local pages into one larger brand page.  If delivering place tips is dependent on this page structure, it will have difficulty in the short term scaling to large brands and retailers.
  • Page Management & Duplicate Pages:  As adoption spreads for place tips, Facebook users may be more prompted to check-in to a place or post a photo to a place that may not already have a page associated with it.  This will contribute to duplicate pages, meaning brands could have a page management nightmare.
  • Adoption: Place tips is on by default but users will not see them until they give Facebook permission to access their location. User concerns over battery drain, data usage, and privacy could encourage many Facebook mobile users to opt-out completely.

What is your first impression of this announcement?  Do you think the test will take off for brands or remain an execution at the local business level?

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