How to Put Your Business on the Map with Facebook Places

Facebook announced Facebook Places in mid-2010, but some businesses haven’t taken notice. Even though this feature has been around for awhile, too many businesses who could benefit from it are still dragging their feet and don’t realize the importance of claiming their place on Facebook.

No more dragging. Facebook users want to check in and so businesses shouldn’t check out.

Facebook Places, Explained

Facebook places does a few things that should matter to businesses, particularly those with a “brick-and-mortar” location.

  1. Map. Facebook places allows us to ‘claim our place’ of business and attach a map of our location to our fan page.
  2. Demographic Information. Every time a customer checks into our business, their interaction is documented on our Facebook page.
  3. Promotions. Check-in options allow us to give our customers a special coupon once they have checked into our location.
  4. Free Publicity. When our customers check in, our business becomes featured on their personal profile page and shared with all of their friends.

It’s a combination of Google Maps, Facebook, a coupon book, and PR. That’s a great combination.

Staking Our Claim

This is surely the most important portion of this lesson, and for most businesses, is something to be done immediately. This is especially true if we are a business with a lot of foot traffic, such as a retail store or a restaurant. The only hold-up is that use of a mobile device (smartphone or iPod) may be required.

Is this your business?

1. Check to see if your place has been created

Facebook only adds a new place to the system when a user checks into it using their mobile device. So, the first thing we will want to do is see if anyone has created our place. To do this, search for our business name on Facebook. If your place has already been created, it should show up.

2. Create your place

If our place isn’t already in the system, we will need to check into our own place using the mobile Facebook app. This will require a visit to the physical location of the businesses to check-in with our smartphone. Read below for instructions on how to do this. Once our place is created, do a search for our business as described in step 1. We should now see our location in the system.

3. Claim your place

To claim our place, we will need to complete a verification process through Facebook. The first step is to click the ‘Is this your business?’ link on the places page. Facebook will ask you to verify that you are the owner of that place and then use a phone verification process to confirm.

Verification is so that no liars, cheats, or thugs can claim your place.

3. Merge your place and your fan page

The final step will be to merge our Facebook brand page with our place listing. Once we have claimed our place, we will want to click the link in the left navigation menu marked “Merge with existing Page.” Now our places information will be added to our current fan page.

Checking into places

What happens when a Facebook user checks into our place, and what does it look like on their profile? Let’s use a restaurant that is a local favorite as our example.

1. Finding places

Using an iPod Touch, we click the ‘check in’ button on the Facebook mobile app. The Facebook app will then automatically find all of the possible check ins that we am currently near.

2. Choose a place.

Once we choose a place to check into, we will be allowed to add a comment or status update.

Easy as that!

3. And there you have it

The check-in will appear on our customer’s page as a story, and the most recent check-in can also can be seen in the maps icon right below their cover photo. This is prime real estate on their profile, and we didn’t have to do a thing to get that spot. Their check in is also included in the news feed of their friends.

Nice placement!

Why should you care?

Places create just one more way for our fans and customers to like and share our page with their friends. It is also a great way to offer them incentives. Once our place and our page are connected,  we can set up promotions easily. In the Admin panel, click on ‘Manage’ and then ‘Edit Page’ from the drop-down menu. The ‘Deals’ tab will be available on the left.

Deals can be an excellent way to provide incentives to your customers.

When used in combination, Places and Deals offer an extremely powerful marketing tool. Once a customer checks in they can immediately be presented with a coupon.

As business owners, we are able to set special deals for individuals and groups, and even control how often they can be redeemed. What a great way to say thank you to the customers that promote us across Facebook, and a great way to provide incentives to our customers to check in often.

Consider allowing customers to redeem the coupon as often as they would like. The little bit of expense is probably worth the extra attention we will be drawing on Facebook. Remember, each status update counts for something!

Wait, there’s more!

Ever considered using paid advertising on Facebook? In our next lesson, we’ll cover the ins and outs of paid ads on Facebook, and provide you with tips to help you decide what kind of ad to place. You won’t want to miss out!