Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Have You Claimed Your Place?

The following is a blog post that I wrote for the Betapond Blog. I wouldn't usually cross-share posts but in this case I think it's worth it. Hope you enjoy.

Have You Claimed Your Place?

Every now and again one of the ‘big players’ does something, well, big. Remember when Apple launched the iPhone? Or when Twitter redesigned its layout. Unless you’ve been living under a rock I can’t imagine the latest ‘big’ thing has passed you by – Facebook launched Facebook Places. The world’s biggest social media platform gave us their take on location-based social media, but unfortunately it’s not available to everyone just yet. Or is it?

A quick search of the interweb will reveal that beyond the US and UK, where Facebook Places is up and running fully, the rest of us don’t have to wait for our countries to get placed. By signing up to one of the many free, or paid, VPN (virtual private network) services out there, you can make Facebook think you are in the US or UK and use Facebook Places from any location.

In fact, as it turned out our team here at Betapond, while being based in Ireland (not a location currently placed), were able to develop two of the first Facebook Places Applications with our ‘I Spy Places’ and ‘LoyaltyBuilder’ Apps. So clearly those of us that want to explore this new location-based service from Facebook can.

What we quickly noticed though was that there weren’t any places on Places. Although Facebook has signed agreements with existing geo-location services like Gowalla and Foursquare, there are probably no places showing up in your location if it hasn’t been officially placed. Of course that’s no obstacle, it just means you needed to add places yourself.

Something happened in the last week, however, and I suddenly found that the number of places showing up increased massively. Even while up in Drogheda at the weekend I found that there are now hundreds upon hundreds of Irish entries on Facebook Places. So what you ask? Well for one this is interesting as it may point to an Irish launch of Facebook Places far ahead of the New Year timeline that Facebook previously, candidly outlined. More importantly though it puts the ball suddenly into every Irish business’s court to claim their Facebook Place.

Whether you have one premises or many, each physical location can be claimed as a Facebook Place. Using Betapond as an example, we have two office locations and both have been claimed. We can now use them in the same way as a Fanpage, including the addition of customised tabs (see above). The advantage, before you ask, is that as soon as Facebook Places does go live in Ireland we will be in full control of our properties and could have promotions, competitions or other location-based activities up and running.

So, as I initially said, have you claimed your place?

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