Facebook Places ‘will take a while to catch on’ in the UK

September 21, 2010

Facebook Places has launched in the UK, with a European roll-out planned imminently.

The service, which allows users to check-in at restaurants, bars and shops, was launched in the U.S. last month. Many UK users will be able to access the service today and it will roll-out to everyone in the UK over the next couple of days.
Facebook Places lets users share their location in a similar fashion to popular location-based social networks such as Foursquare and Gowalla. People using the tool can see if their friends are near them at any time based on whether they have chosen to check-into their current location.   Martin McNulty, general manager of Forward 3D, a search marketing specialist, said: “Facebook Places is likely to experience a slow rate of adoption among UK audiences on its launch as people try to uncover its practical value. However, as early technology adopters begin experimenting with the technology and showing others how it can be used, its growth rate is sure to rapidly increase.
“Although many of the older generation are likely to be skeptical at first about the safety aspects of announcing your location to the digital world, younger and more experimental users, will be keen to get to grips with this new tool and are less likely to let fear stand in their way.”
Stuart Eccles, managing partner of Made by Many, a digital consultancy, agreed saying: “Initially Facebook Places is likely to only gain a small proportion of users but then a small proportion of Facebook users is still a lot of people. However, when it starts working with large chains and local businesses to run promotions for regular customers, we’ll start to see it enter the mainstream. After all, everyone loves a bargain.”
McNulty added the creation of the tool was the “next logical step” for the social network. “Facebook’s move into the location arena was its next logical step as the big technology companies start competing to uncover the next level of profitable metadata on consumers. Similar to the website land grab of the late 90s, gathering data on people’s interests, locations and lifestyle is the next battleground for the business world,” he explained. Michael Sharon, the product manager of Facebook places, said: “Our products are modeled on how people are already using the site… We realized people were already posting where they were and who they were with every day.”
Talking at a UK press conference this morning, he said that the company had three distinct goals for Places. One, that it the tool makes it easy for people to share their location and who they are with. Two, people can use Places to find friends who are located nearby and three, the tool helps people discover new places around them.
Facebook users can check in with their iPhone Facebook app, or visit touch.facebook.com, to get access to the tool. A user then needs to select ‘Places’, tap the ‘Check-In’ button, and then a list of nearby places will come up on the screen. Facebook members then can choose the place which matches their location, and if it is not on the list, they can search for it or add it.
Once ‘checked in’, the activity will be posted in a user’s news feed and come up in the ‘Recent Activity’ section on the specific location’s page.
Eccles predicted a large financial reward for the company who managed to crack location-based social networking. He said: “Places is the latest development in Facebook’s ongoing quest to socialize all objects - both digital and real – and to dominate the new social search market and contextual advertising arena.
(Source: Daily Telegraph)