RePLACE your Fan Pages?

A few months ago I brought up the Facebook vs. Foursquare debate. And true to their word, Facebook has quickly gotten to work on launching its own geolocation app called Places. Basically if you’ve been on the Internet at all over the past six months, you’ve seen your fair share of virtual friends’ locations popping up all over your social networking homepages. But even though Facebook wasn’t the first to come up with the stalker-friendly wonder that is geolocation, it is re-inventing the ways it can be used.

Introducing Facebook Places, a mobile-browsing friendly application that allows users to check-in at business locations, tag people they’re with and leave comments on friends’ updates. Not exactly ground-breaking news when it comes to location sharing apps, but Places may prove to be quite the force to be reackoned with…

It was only a matter of time before Facebook cashed in on the geolocation craze. There’s no way an empire like Facebook was going to pass on the marketing opportunities that comes with allowing users to check in at businesses. But of course, there is a catch. With the launch of Places comes the speculation that Facebook fan pages may soon be a thing of the past, chewed up and swallowed in Places’ wake. Apparently fan pages are already slowly being phased out, with talk that eventually a company’s fan page will be deleted once they’ve established a Places page. This leaves small businesses with fan pages little choice but to jump on the bandwagon before they’re left in the dust, wondering why their page is no longer feeling the love.

This may sound like Facebook just unleashed an angry bully, but there are some definite positives. The integration of Places could mean a lot of growth for small businesses, offering new takes on promotional opportunities and curbing unecessary marketing noise. Think about how easy it would be to tie in a call to action with customers’ check-in activity. Offering coupons and special discounts to friends who check-in at your location ensures that they’ll physically step foot on your turf. Talk about qualifying your real estate. Not to mention the validation this would bring, especially where fan page status updates were unable to.

As with most new launches, the story has only just begun to unravel. Stay tuned for more changes and news to come, this is bound to be a hot topic.

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