Gini Dietrich

Facebook Places: Be Cautiously Curious

By: Gini Dietrich | August 23, 2010 | 

Now that Facebook Places (a location-based tool that is likely going to compete with Foursquare and Gowalla) has been in full force for a few days, have you tried it? It’s kind of a fun little tool, from a personal perspective, and we’ll talk here about the business implications, but I say be cautiously curious.

Several weeks ago, Facebook opened the platform to search engines, which means a few things:

* When someone tags you or your business on Facebook and you don’t already have a page, it creates one for you.

* When someone tags you or your business on Facebook, Google picks it up in their searches.

* You don’t have much control (other than changing your privacy settings) on whether or not a friend tells the world they’re out with you and you’re not at home – making you a prime target for burglars (or stalkers) as was raised by the now defunct Please Rob Me.

But, just like anything on the web, the pros definitely outweigh the cons for a business. Facebook Places is a marketer’s dream. Danny Brown guest blogged on Spin Sucks about using location-based marketing before Facebook Places launched, and I followed up with some additional ideas. These ideas work for all location-based tools, including Facebook Places.

Just last night I checked into Baskin Robbins because Pete The TapeWorm (my stomach) needed ice cream. A friend said, “Oh! I always forget about Baskin Robbins!” Likely she’s also going to have ice cream from the 31 Flavors this week – all because I checked in. Now imagine if 10 people do that…Baskin Robbins suddenly has 10 new customers. This can happen for any business – even if you don’t have a retail location; it’s raising awareness through social networks and loyal customers.

But from a personal perspective when it comes to Facebook Places, be cautiously curious. If you don’t want your friends to tag you, go to account/privacy settings and disable “people here now” setting. You can also customize who can or cannot tag you by selecting “places I check in to.”

If you don’t have Google alerts set up on your name, do that now. Then you’ll know what kind of information is being put on the web without your knowledge. Play with the tool, but also pay attention to how it’s being used for you.

What tips do you have for using Facebook Places for both personal and business use?

* Image courtesy of Mashable

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I think I can safely say I have seen it all now. “Pete the Tape Worm” has his own twitter?! hahahaha….. Thanks for the morning chuckle! Girl after my own heart!

  • The problem I have with facebook, as a person, is that it has ALL of the information on me anyone could possibly want in just one place. I did not give them my real birthday, for example, because combining that with everything else is simply a recipe for ID theft.

    Adding to this where I am at any one moment seems like a very dangerous thing, especially for someone with a rather high public profile to start with.

    For the businesses I consult with I will spend some time evaluating this new development carefully. Yes, it’s great information that they can use very well to ID and communicate with customers. It could easily form a strong center of community online, which is the key to any strategic use of social media.

    But if the concentration of info is dangerous for those customers, does a business really want to be part of it? I’m still not entirely sure. I think over the long haul there are too many unresolved issues tied up in this. There’s more risk to using this than first meets the eye, IMHO, and that needs to be evaluated.

  • Ray Lapena

    Thanks for the insight and heads up, Gini! Adjusting my privacy settings now.

  • Echoing Ray’s sentiments here. Thanks for the tip off.

    To be honest, I’m getting a little peeved about Facebook. It’s kind of gulping up every idea on the web at the moment.

    I feel a post about walled gardens coming on….

  • Jan: Yes! Pete has his own Twitter and Facebook accounts. What’s even more funny, though, is I didn’t create the accounts. So when you see me talking to him, it’s actually one of my crazy friends!

    Erik: I hate to be the one to tell you this, but it’s not just Facebook that has all of your information. The entire web is trolling for all of your information…and the more we use the web and mobile apps, the more information we have out there.

    I do think businesses want to use this; where we will see issues is on the personal side. Set your boundaries now with what you’re comfortable having people do on your behalf.

    Ray: You’re welcome!

    Jon: I know if I were Foursquare, I would be really angry right now. Not that there is anything they can do about it, but Facebook essentially just stole the idea. Now, as a consumer, I’m trying to decide if there is a place for both apps. I’m thinking not.

  • Good advice, Gini (as always). I do think it is a marketer’s dream, but it does make me as a person wary. Being cautious, I have adjusted my settings and of course have already put a Google Alert on my name, but with the name Karen Rocks, I get a lot of listings to filter through. The one drawback of a cool name…

  • Regarding Facebook ripping off Foursquare: there are dozens of location apps/platforms out there, and plenty of room for all to be worried about FB’s effect on their businesses. That said, I read (perhaps on Mashable?) that Foursquare turned down a FB buyout offer of $120M, countering with a request for $150M at which point the former walked away. There was also quite a bit of reporting about Facebook’s lift to Foursquare, giving them their biggest new user registration that coincided with the Places launch.

  • Karen – have you tried using quotation marks and plus and minus signs to narrow down your Google alerts? If not, I have some tips for you.

    Karyn – It makes me sick that the Foursquare guys wouldn’t go for $120 million. I mean, is $30 million that much of a difference? Really? I’ll check out the TechCrunch article. Thanks for the link!

  • Gini, Yes I do use quotes and +/-. It’s not that bad, sometimes the results can be amusing. Great point though for those using Google Alerts to narrow searches.

  • Pingback: 57 Takes on Facebook Places: Analyzed, Criticized, Evangelized » aimClear Search Marketing Blog()

  • Gini – you touch on two of my hot-buttons in this piece – Location Based Services (which I wrote about in my Huffington Post blog) and Reputation Management (which I wrote about in my personal Veritate et Virtute blog).

    LBS regardless of provider has positive aspects and worrisome aspects. The individual needs to understand what they are sharing and how it will be used. Read the privacy statements & set the privacy settings to the level of your personal comfort.

    Re Reputation. I commend your readers attention to two books concerning reputation and why you absolutely want to have an alert set on your name, userids and variants.

    “Google Bomb Book” tells the story of Sue Scheff (a friend of mine) and her efforts to regain her positive reputation which a third party tarnished and “Wild West 2.0” which discusses online reputation management. I am still reading the latter, and will write a review when completed, but Sue’s book is reviewed on my personal blog.

    Good to be aware. Thanks for this piece.

    • Christopher – It was fun to ask you about your top three security recommendations and LBS was on the top of that list…especially having just written this post. Thanks for your wisdom!