If you are a Facebook Mobile user, then congratulations — you are now a participant in Facebook’s new “Place Tips” initiative. This beacon-powered feature, not to be confused for the similarly named but wildly unsuccessful Facebook Beacon, was first announced in January as a location-based, curated hub of information about a given business that is delivered straight to users through the Facebook application. Given the commotion surrounding Facebook’s announcement earlier this week about distributing Bluetooth enabled beacons (the technology that aids in providing the Place Tips experience) for free to select businesses, we’ve narrowed down what users and businesses need to know to be in the loop.
If you are a Facebook Mobile User:
- You don’t have to do a single thing. No app download or scouring for a convenient place to store the app on your phone. Place Tips is integrated into the overall Facebook experience and should be no more intrusive than Facebook’s notifications about friends’ birthdays — something that can be swiped away instantly if you’re uninterested.
- A non-intrusive banner might greet you at the top of your mobile app the next time you’re in an airport or coffee shop. Simply click to expand for a variety of curated, concise information to help your decision making on the go. Don’t know what to order at the new restaurant across the street? Place Tips could allow you to find out what your friends ordered and enjoyed off the menu. Looking for something to do over the weekend? A beacon that senses your presence at a theater might inform you of an upcoming 90s-movie marathon.
- You’re discretely being presenting with existing information through a one-way channel. That is, no new data about you is being collected and your location won’t be shared with anyone unless you opt to use a check-in feature. Instead, your location is simply used so that existing information can be conveyed conveniently. Think of it as a personalized dashboard of your friends’ activity and crucial business information.
- You’ll receive all sorts of information about a location, such as upcoming events, special deals, photos of products, and reviews. This tool has the potential to be the ultimate sharing/discovery experience if users utilize functions such as the check-in tool and continue sharing social experiences wherever they go.
If you are a business:
- After receiving the beacon hardware from Facebook, you essentially have a shiny, new marketing tool for your business, so long as your Facebook page is filled with valuable information. Studies show that recommendations from family/friends are the biggest millennial purchasing influencers, ranking even higher than traditional product reviews.
- Normally, a user would have to be a fan of your page to see any content you are creating. Now, Place Tips can extend that reach through location services and target anyone that walks into your location—fan or not. Be sure to fill out a customized message for the user and include important business information such as location, hours, rotating specials, and even positive reviews from critics.
- You can’t push ads through this feature. However, millennials claim to value authenticity and social media engagement with brands far more than advertisements, so it’s likely that you’ll still be building brand loyalty and engaging users if you have enticing content. If you’re a retailer, for example, you could post photos about new arrivals or a sale so that the customer is immediately informed of offerings when they enter your store.
Beacons can be a powerful tool for retailers and consumers alike. In fact, businesses across various industries have already implemented beacons to revolutionize the customer experience. While Facebook’s Place Tips has brought some attention to beacons, this relatively unexplored technology has the potential to impact everyday business in unimaginable ways. We’ve put together a White Paper that lays out the benefits and pitfalls of beacon technology, how to get started with the tech and what the future of beacon technology looks like.