Sunday, September 12, 2010

Foursquare, Facebook Places, and the Future of Location-Based Social Media

Just last week, Facebook launched a new application called Facebook Places and entered the world of geo-location social media.  This type of social media has been growing in popularity in the past year, mostly due to another brand of this application called Foursquare.  The main idea behind this social medium is that app users can "check-in" at businesses using their cell phones, PDAs, and othe rmobile devices and thereby show to friends and family where they are at any given moment.

As described in this Open Forum article, Foursquare " part social tool, part applications enable users to connect and compete with friends by updating their location (pinpointed via satellite) in real time. Members earn points and unlock badges by 'checking in' at places ranging from restaurants, museums and nightclubs to florists, grocers and gas stations — otherwise known as your business."

Now you may be thinking, "This can't benefit me as I'm at a professional conference center and market to specific clientele.  I don't get foot traffic like stores and restaurants do."

Not the case, in my opinion.  To me, this is a win-win for both conference centers and meeting planners.  Many meeting planners and site-specialists work remotely and are not on-site to greet participants when they arrive at their chosen conference center.  Imagine how easy it would be for that planner to know all of her participants had arrived safely if she just requested that they all check-in using Facebook Places or Foursquare.  On the other side of this, conference centers would receive free publicity on those sites once the meeting participants disclosed their location.  This could incite more business (or at least website traffic for your center) as the participants' contacts on Facebook and Foursquare would see where they were checked in and grow curious about the location.

Before jumping onto this new train of social media, it's necessary to do your homework.  Facebook Places and Foursquare are not the only geo-location social media sites.  Google is a top leader in this technology with Google Places, as is Twitter and Gowalla also feature similar applications.  You need to do your research.  Facebook's websites is a great place to start.  There is a full page dedicated to Facebook Places that explains what this application is and how to use it in full detail.  You can access it by going to the Help Center when you are logged into your account.  You can also visit to see what their application model is like.

Lastly, another blog posted about this trend last week in an article entitled "What Your Business Should Know About Facebook Places," which you can read by clicking here.

Written by Meghan Bollenback
Food & Beverage Manager
R. David Thomas Executive Hotel & Conference Center

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