Facebook has the Hot Potato- Foursquare’s Out!

Facebook Announces ‘Facebook Places’ and purchase of Hot Potato!

Hot Potato logoFacebook recently announced a new geolocation feature for its users, Facebook Places.  You may be familiar with other geolocation services, such as the start-ups FoursquareGowalla, or Hot Potato.  Hot Potato was recently acquired by Facebook, which has brought all eight Hot Potato employees on-board, presumably to expand and develop Facebook Places.

In a statement released to Mashable.com, Facebook announced, “We’re excited to confirm that we recently acquired Hot Potato, a service that helps people socialize around live events and share what they’re doing with friends.  We’ve admired for some time how Hot Potato is tackling this space and look forward to working with them to bring Hot Potato innovations to Facebook.”

Will Facebook Places eliminate these other small geo-location services?  Only time will tell.  Foursquare and Gowalla offer fun game-like features with their services, and often work with business to offer discounts for users.  Facebook Places doesn’t offer any of these features yet.  One thing’s for certain, though- Facebook serves over 500 million users compared with Foursquare’s 3 million users, and Gowalla has even less.  Also worth noting is the strong relationship between Facebook and Yelp.  I can only imagine there will be more integration with Yelp and Facebook Places in the future.

But how does Facebook Places work?  How will this new feature be implemented and effect user privacy?  How can Business Owners capitalize on Facebook Places?

Facebook Places Basics:

Facebook PlacesFacebook Places is currently only available to some users in the united States and on the Facebook iPhone app.  Places will be available to other smart phones that support HTML 5 geolocation, such as the Droid, in the near future.

Places works by allowing Facebook users to ‘check in’ to the various locations they visit, such as restaurants and bars, your local library, a friend’s home, etc. by logging into Facebook Places from their phone application or via touch.facebook.com.

Upon checking in, Facebook will announce to your friends that you have arrived at this destination.  You can also ‘tag’ your friends that are with you, much like you would tag someone in a photo, and find out who else is currently ‘checked in’.  If you tag a friend that is not using Places, it’s just like mentioning their name in a status update.

If you tag someone who is already signed up for and using Facebook Places, it will mention it in their Newsfeed and add them to the ‘checked-in’ list as if they checked-in themselves.  The first time you are tagged, Facebook will send you a notice and give you the option of allowing your friends to check you into places or not.  You are always notified of when someone checks you into a location, and you can always selectively delete check-ins, much like you can delete a comment on your wall or a status update.

Privacy Concerns with Facebook Places:

Facebook learned a lot (the hard way) when it changed the structure of its Privacy Settings, automatically setting all users’ accounts to share EVERYTHING with EVERYONE as the default setting.  This time around they have made the automatic sharing settings much more conservative, with the default setting only sharing your location with the people on your Friends list.  However, what if you still want more privacy?  Maybe your boss is on your Friends list, or you have an ex you’re trying to avoid.

Don’t go deleting your Facebook profile yet!  You can customize, or even completely disable the Places feature!  Facebook has even made a helpful demo video for you to show exactly how to customize your privacy settings.

Facebook Places for Business:

Right now, Facebook Places is in it’s Beta version, so there’s not too much information about how business will be able to interact with it and use it to promote their business, although when Mark Zuckerberg announce Facebook Places he hinted that there is more to come.  If Places follows in the footsteps of Foursquare, business could start offering promotions to customers that check in a certain number of times, etc.

In the meantime, if you’re a Business Owner, you should probably log into touch.facebook.com, add your business address, and check in!  There still aren’t a lot of businesses listed, and new users will be eager to test the software out and visit new places they find.

Yelp logo

You should also make sure you have a business listing on Yelp, too.  Your clients/ customers can and will add your business to these listing services sooner or later, if they haven’t done so already.  It’s in your best interest to be an active member of these online market places.  By adding your business to Facebook Places, you are making your business easier for the 500+ million Facebook users- for FREE!

If you want to learn more about Facebook Places, visit the Facebook Blog.

 

This content originally appeared on the RealEstateSEO1.com blog. I wrote it while working at Boston Logic.