By Mandy Murphy
It is obvious that the popularity of location based platforms has grown over the past year, but with so many choices how do businesses decide on which medium to incorporate into their social media programs? A few months ago brands such as The Gap and Starbucks were almost positive the answer to this question was Foursquare, until Facebook announced the launch of Facebook Places late last week. When it comes to location based social networking, brands need to stop trying to jump on to everything and stop and think about the consumer. Will they or are they already using this network and why? Is this platform conducive to sharing? Is the path to the desired end result quick and easy for them to reach? Then brands next have to decide whether this medium will help them meet their desired goals and ROI. Are the results of a campaign easy to measure? Will this network fit seamlessly into our social campaign?
To elaborate on some of the questions mentioned above let’s compare Facebook Places and Foursquare looking specifically at the incentives offered, the viral capabilities, and the ease of use for the business and for the end user.
One major factor you want to take into consideration when developing a social media strategy is will people want to interact with your brand through these chosen mediums and why?
Foursquare offers users:
- A gaming experience that allows the user to become the ‘mayor’ of a location, earn badges related to their interests, and a points system.
- A way to leave tips for their friends in regards to a location and to see where their friends are at that moment.
- A way to detect what businesses are nearby and if they are offering any cool discounts for being a customer.
On the business side, Foursquare offers brands a way to share special offers, reward loyal customers, leave valuable tips, and to customize their venue pages.
Facebook Places offers users:
- A map and direction features.
- A way to see where their friends are and to check them in if they are together.
- A way to share their location with all their Facebook friends.
On the business side, Places offers brands a way to integrate their fan page with their place (as long as they only have one location), to share special offers, and advertise their place to a database of over 500 million people.
A second factor you must take into consideration when deciding on which channels to promote your business is reach and shareability.
Foursquare allows users to:
- Share their check-ins with all their Foursquare friends, Facebook friends, and Twitter followers which helps promote the business across multiple platforms.
Foursquare also allows brands to promote nearby special offers through mobile devices, which is a great way to drive traffic into a location.
Facebook Places allows users to:
- Share their check-ins with all their Facebook friends which helps promote the business.
- Check in their friends at locations with them, which helps businesses reach a new set of eyes.
As mentioned above Places also allows businesses to promote their location through targeted Facebook advertising.
Ease of Use for Businesses And The Consumers
A final factor businesses should consider when deciding on new platforms is ease of use for the consumer and ease of management for the business.
Foursquare and Facebook Places are very similar as far as the check in process goes for the user but what about the management process for the business?
Foursquare allows businesses to:
- Authenticate multiple locations in one sweep through a bulk form. This form also allows businesses to organize mass special offers and promotions. You still must set up and edit each location separately.
Facebook Places requires businesses to:
- Not only set up and edit each place separately BUT to verify that the actual business manager is the one who is claiming the Place, Facebook must call the listed number then and give a 4-digit PIN to enter after receiving the call. The business must then provide a proof of ownership to confirm the process. This could make it difficult for businesses that have multiple locations to manage their location.
Facebook Places also does not allow businesses with more than one location to merge with their pages which will make management more difficult.
In the end both location based platforms are still so new and both have lots of big plans in store for the future. We will just have to wait and see who comes out on top!
Which platform do you feel would fit best into your businesses social strategy and why?