Last week Facebook unveiled Facebook Places, a smart-phone location check-in feature that allows users to share their location, find the location of their friends, and discover new places based on other Facebook user recommendations - much like Yelp!, Google Places, and Foursquare.
After reading numerous articles discussing the new application, the following is a brief recap of the impact Facebook Places will have on independent pharmacy.
Why Facebook Places is a Big Deal for Small Businesses
As an independent pharmacy owner, you need to be aware of Facebook Pages, and you need to be aware of it even if you have no intention of ever using it. Because some of Facebook’s 500 million users are your customers and, regardless of your feelings, they’ll be using it.
Small business marketing gurus, Ducktape Marketing, recently posted the Top 5 Reasons Facebook Places is a Big Deal:
- Facebook is building a suite of advertising tools that will allow you to list, claim and advertise your place on Facebook.
- You no longer have to educate your customers - they all know what Facebook is and are using it on a daily basis.
- People checking in at your business are naturally telling some part of the world about your business - each time someone check in, and instance is created on their profile and newstream for all of their friends to see.
- Offering coupons and special offers for people who check in is a natrual way to tap into the power of online tools to drive offline sales.
- Data that you can collect on users and amount of times they check in will provide extremely valuable in tracking customers and advertising spending.
To access Facebook Places you’ll have to use the iPhone Facebook application or, if you don’t use an iPhone, you can access touch.facebook.com from any mobile browser-supported phone.
The Facebook Place Page listings are very similar to those of other check-in websites. They show your basic business information (address, phone number, directions, etc), a Bing map, the number of check-ins and any of your friends who have checked into the business.
Here’s a screenshot of a Facebook Place listing for Pharmacy Development Services:
Facebook Places vs. Facebook Business Pages
If you attended the PDS Social Media Boot Camp or have taken your own initiative, you already have a Facebook Page. However, right now Facebook Place Pages is existing completely independent of your pharmacy’s Facebook Fan page that you’re using to engage and connect with customers. That means you have to watch and monitor both to protect yourself from attack.
Facebook’s Chris Box has announced that small business owners will be able to merge their Fan page listing with their Facebook Place Page at a later date. There’s quite a hefty claiming process to set the stage for the eventual merger, but once it’s done, the new Place Page will serve as your business’ identity on Facebook. You will have one page that users can interact with and check in at.
Having a fully integrated page will also open up different promotional opportunities for independent pharmacy owners who can now tie calls to action with check in activity or run ads directing people to their page.
What You Need to Do Right Now to Protect Your Brand
Right now, pharmacy owners need to do their part to make sure that their information and brand are both protected. You can’t merge your Facebook Place page with your Fan page yet, but you can claim it. By claiming it you give yourself the ability to edit the information, complete your profile and authorize page admins. Getting this done ahead of time will help you take advantage of the merged profiles once they become available. Also, there’s no current way to edit the title of your Facebook Place Page, so if you want to make sure it gets inputted correctly, you may want to be pro-active and create it yourself.
A lot of information about how this service works is still evolving, but here’s the current FAQ page from Facebook.
If your business is not already listed on Places you can add it by following these instructions.
Let us know! Do you plan on using Facebook Places personally or as a business owner? Have you seen any of your customers “check in” to your pharmacy?