Facebook Beacons

Facebook is expanding its Place Tips program, and that means retailers will finally have access to free beacons that push posts and photos related to their business when someone accesses Facebook in or near that location.

For example, if you are checking your Facebook quickly while you are waiting in line at a participating retailer you will see “more info about places you visit, including your friends’ photos, experiences and moments from that place.” Users will also be prompted to like the business’s Facebook page.

As Engadget reported, users will receive a “tip” notification for the place you are at when you open Facebook on your phone. If you tap it, you’ll be shown a series of cards related to the location. The cards will include current posts and photos from your friends who have also visited the location, as well as basic information about the business.

For now, the cards offer limited value from the perspective of the retailer, especially as advertising is not permitted. However, it gets retailers directly on users streams and is delivered based on an opt-out basis to users. That means there is still quite the potential for the program.

To make the service work, Facebook determines your location using a combination of cellular networks, Wi-Fi, GPS, and Facebook Bluetooth® beacons.

For now the Place Tips program is limited to the Facebook app for the iPhone and location services must be enabled for the tips to appear.

Mike Blumenthal did a great job explaining the importance of the announcement to small and medium businesses:

This marks the first time that beacon technology to interact with customers is being made available at scale to every business. While it might not appeal to a Macy’s that can implement their own beacon hardware and software stack, it now makes the option available for every Mom & Pop to participate with in-store customer interactions.

You can request your free beacon using this form.

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