Facebook Places, Facebook’s location-based feature that launched in August, allows Facebook users to see where their friends are and to share their locations in the real world. It has also become another powerful Facebook marketing tool for businesses, who can design campaigns around the checkin service to build awareness, grow their fan base and engage and reward customers.
Each time a Facebook user checks into a particular location on Facebook Places, Facebook broadcasts the checkin to that user’s friends’ news feeds. This is not only viral marketing for the company – it also allows businesses to provide incentives for people to come to their physical locations or events.
Although the service has only been around for a few months, quite a few companies have already begun integrating Facebook Places into their marketing programs. Here are five great examples that illustrate different ways companies can use Facebook Places, from offering simple discounts for checkins to multi-step rewards programs.
1. Discounts for Checkins: Westfield Valley Fair
A simple but powerful way to use Facebook Places is to reward fans for every checkin.
Westfield Valley Fair, a premium shopping center based in Santa Clara, CA, wanted to use Facebook Places to bring more shoppers into the center and to promote its merchants. The company worked with social media marketing company Fan Appz to launch a location-based marketing program that gives shoppers valuable merchant coupons when they check in at the Westfield center.
In its initial campaign, Westfield enticed shoppers with a 15% off coupon at Betsey Johnson if they visited and checked in at the shopping center, which the company reports has driven an increase in checkins. They’ve since introduced a number of other offers, including a 25% off coupon at Gap.
2. Leveraging Events: Electronic Arts UK
Events provide a ripe opportunity for companies to use checkins to promote their brands. Electronic Arts UK, for example, recently worked with creative agency Imperial Leisure Ltd to launch a Facebook Places campaign around the Electronic Arts Christmas tour “Play4Xmas,” leveraging six events at shopping malls across the UK in November and December. People attending the events are encouraged to check in at each event for a chance to win up to 10 games per day.
The Facebook Places campaign has already helped turn fans at the events into advocates, with events to date generating many hundreds of checkins and tens of thousands of free brand impressions in attendee news feeds.
3. Creating Event-Specific Places: Onitsuka Tiger by Asics
Onitsuka Tiger by Asics also used Facebook Places in a brand marketing campaign as part of its sponsorship of the Sydney Bicycle Film Festival, working with retail marketing agency IdeaWorks.
The strategy was to make the Onitsuka Tiger brand a key engagement point at each of the 10 events of the four-day festival. To do this, the team visited each venue to create unique Facebook Places, naming them as “Onitsuka Tiger Check In Points,” so that when festival-goers were prompted to checkin, they’d be checking in at the “Onitsuka Tiger Check In Point @ The BFF” instead of at the venue.
Attendees were then asked to check in with Facebook Places at three of the event locations and answer a question on the Onitsuka Tiger Facebook Page for a chance to win a custom bike as well as Onitsuka Tiger gear. The company has shared publicly that more than 50% of attendees at the first event checked in; if this is any indication of the rest of the program, the campaign looks to have been a huge hit.
4. Daily Checkins: University of Kentucky
Just weeks after Facebook Places was announced, the University of Kentucky saw an opportunity to use the collective reach of its student’s networks to build awareness among prospective students.
Working with its ad agency, Cornett-IMS, the university installed giant, wooden Facebook icons in the university’s signature blue on its campus to encourage students to check in at different locations around the school every day. Each student checkin shows up in the students’ news feed, which the university hopes will be seen day after day by thousands of the students’ friends who are still in high school and boost their recruiting efforts.
The university reports that the campaign has already created a good deal of conversation on the campus and it’s seen a large number of people checking in while on campus and at sporting events.
The university is also using this campaign as a way to educate students about online privacy and responsible use of location-tracking services.
5. Facebook Places Leader Boards: VisitBritain
VisitBritain, the UK tourism promotion agency, and Betapond, a Facebook and social technology development company, recently launched a Facebook Places program that uses a leader board (among other tactics) to promote various UK landmarks and the country as a whole.
The program encourages visitors to check in every time they reach a notable British location and write a review of what they find. This information then automatically updates a “Top 50 UK Places” leader board on VisitBritain’s LoveUK Facebook Page.
Dubbed “a global guest book” for Britain, VisitBritain hopes the leader board will become an influential barometer showing shifts in opinion about the UK’s most popular icons, landscapes and attractions.
The program has already driven tens of thousands of checkins in just a few weeks, with more than 250,000 visits to the Top 50 Places page. VisitBritain’s fan numbers have also spiked by 34% since the start of the campaign.
If you’re thinking about launching your own Facebook Places program, here are four simple steps to get started.
Find, create and claim your Place Page. Search nearby Places to find your business; if it’s not already added, you can add it manually. You then need to “claim” your business so you can edit relevant information.
Merge Facebook Places with your Facebook Page. This ensures that anyone who has “Liked” your Facebook Page will be connected to your Places Page; it enables you to manage offers, links, status updates and more from one location; and adds new features such as maps and checkins to your main Facebook Page.
Encourage checkins. Use your existing social media vehicles to promote your presence on Facebook Places and even consider signage at your physical location. Consider spicing up the competitive spirit of your work force by encouraging employees to check in when they come to work, too.
Reward customers for checking in. Just as you might run an offline seasonal sale or special offer, take advantage of third-party tools to run specials and reward customers who check in with discounts, coupons or deals. Hopefully these five campaign examples will have given you some ideas!
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