Yesterday night, Facebook finally announced their local/geolocation play: Facebook Places. It’s fairly straightforward. The main idea is that you’ll now be able to tag yourself and check-in/mention/review places when doing a status update in Facebook. Each place will have a page on Facebook with basic listing information coming from data provider Localeze (we use them at Praized Media as well). Depending on your privacy settings (set at “friends only” by default), structured status updates that mention specifically a place will appear on place pages. On place pages, you’ll be able to see if your friends are there or have been to the place in the past. You’ll also other “public” status updates (when Facebook users have chosen to broadcast that information to the world). This video shows you in details how Facebook Places works. Facebook Places is available for US locations to start, with other countries coming soon. It can be accessed on the Facebook iPhone app and at touch.facebook.com.
update: Business Insider has a “how to use Facebook Places”
Facebook has no plan to monetize Facebook Places in the short term but merchants can claim their listing. I suspect claiming a place transforms it into a local Facebook fan page. It wasn’t clear if we can we link/merge Facebook Places to existing Facebook Pages. Techcrunch has a piece about how Facebook is promoting the new place pages to advertisers.
Facebook is also launching an API for Facebook Places. The read API is supposed to be available today. They’re also a Write and Search API in closed beta. As Jerome Paradis told me yesterday on Twitter, Facebook Places (through its API) is probably going to become the gold standard for local check-ins. CNET calls it “one check-in to rule them all”
Other than Localeze as US data partner, Facebook is also partnering with Gowalla, Foursquare, Booyah and Yelp at launch. Consumers checking-in using one of these four applications will be able to broadcast their structured local information in Facebook as well (and it will appear on the Facebook place pages as well).
Facebook product managers say they have three goals for Facebook Places:
- Share your location
- See who in your network of friends is around you
- Discover new places.
The long term vision was explained as follow by Facebook representatives: “there are three places that matter: 1) Home, 2) Work, 3) The Third Place. The Third Place, a term coined by urban sociologist Ray Oldenburg, is the places we go, and share lives”. With Facebook Places, you can now “create stories around places” via local status updates. “Stories are now going to be pinned to physical locations”, the vision is to create a repository of human memories around “places”.
Facebook has obviously learned from last December’s debacle when they got Twitter envy and reseted everyone’s privacy settings to public creating a huge fury. For Facebook Places, they default the check-ins to “friends only”, which means only your friends will see your “local” status updates containing a tagged place. Even before trying the service, many people on Facebook and Twitter seem to be freaked out by it (and if you are, you can opt out here by changing the setting on “places I check in”). As I wrote on Twitter this morning, we should try Facebook Places first before we all go crazy. Keep calm, breathe normally… 🙂
What it means: I believe this launch is huge for geolocation/local media space. It has come of age. Four years ago, when I launched this blog to talk about the intersection of local and social, many people didn’t see how these two topics could connect. I think everyone now understands the power of social when mixed with local. Facebook is the place where you aggregate/maintain your core social graph, your friends and colleagues. By introducing a way to easily structure status updates around local places, Facebook becomes the default local conversation engine for local places. I stated yesterday on Twitter that, “with the FB Places launch, we can officially say it: merchant/place reviews are dead. Status updates are the new merchant reviews.” I explained my rationale to Mike Blumenthal this morning:
- Status updates (or tweets) are easy to do.
- Many people have stopped blogging because doing short-form messages is so much “easier”, less time-consuming, than a big blog post.
- I think the same thing will happen to long-form merchant reviews. It’s going to become so much easier to do a quick status update review using Facebook places (and those will accumulate on the Facebook Place page) that a lot of people will migrate from doing reviews on Yelp (or IYPs for that matter) to do them
- I added that, for me, Facebook Places is not about “check-ins”. It’s about signaling socially your location. It’s about structuring a conversation about a
local place and anchoring it to the right place.
Facebook Places will change the space forever.