Facebook Places is a new ‘location-based’ feature that allows Facebook members to see where their friends are and to share their location in the real world. Facebook Places can be a powerful way to attract new and repeat customers. Each time a Facebook member ‘checks-in’ to your location on Facebook Places, Facebook broadcasts the check-in to that member’s friends' news feeds. This is not only viral marketing for your dealership—it also allows you to provide incentives for people to come to your business.
Here are four simple steps to get started.
1. Find, create, and claim your place
If you're at the physical location of your business, you can search nearby Places to find your business. If your business does not appear in the search results, you can add it manually by entering your business name and description.
The next step is to "claim" your business so you can edit contact information, physical address, hours of operation, pictures, and administrative rights and settings. Click on “Is this your business?” to claim your Place, then check the box to declare that you are an official representative.
2. Merge Facebook Places with your Facebook Page
Merging your Places page with your existing Facebook Page ensures that anyone who has “Liked” your Facebook Page will be connected to your Places page. Merging both properties also allows you to manage offers, links, status updates, and more from one location.
Your merged Facebook Page will include new features, including maps and check-ins. Check-ins are the most important feature of Facebook Places because they allow you to engage and reward customers for visiting your business location.
3. Encourage check-ins
While many early consumer adopters may take it upon themselves to check-in to your business on Facebook Places, the majority will need some encouragement. It is important to make customers aware that you have launched your Facebook Places page. Use your existing social media vehicles to promote your presence on Facebook Places. You may also want to consider some offline promotion as well, such as signage at your physical location. And encourage your employees to check-in when they come to work—it’s one additional step to boosting the viral potential of your presence on Facebook Places.
4. Reward customers for checking in
Just as you might run an offline seasonal sale or special offer, you can take advantage of third-party tools to run specials and reward customers who check-in with discounts, coupons, or deals. Miller Honda of Van Nuys, for example, used ran a promotion that enabled fans to get a coupon for a $24.88 oil change when they checked in at Miller Honda Van Nuys on Facebook Places.
Jon Siegal is the founder and chief executive officer of Fan Appz, a popular integrated suite of applications for social media marketing. For more information, visit www.fanappz.com.