Will Facebook Places Have Relevancy?
Peter Panda

6a00e5541efc4388330133f3464f9e970b-800wiSo is your Facebook page filled with check-in posts now? Ah, yes. Thank you, Facebook Places. My news stream just got a whole lot less relevant to me. For those that haven’t figured out a way to annoy your friends, here is a field guide curtesy of Mashable and ABC news.

So the question is, will people continue to use this after the initial launch euphoria? As it stands now, I’m going to say no. And not to be controversial, or otherwise. But simply because rewards will win over convenience, IMHO. Here’s why:

It’s all about incentives. Call it “game mechanics” if you will. But people check-in for a reason. And that reason is not just to tell everyone where they are. They want to be the mayor. They want to have more points than their friends, they want more Gowalla swag, (insert your list here based on Shopkick, Swagg, Loopt Star, Topguest, Checkpoints, etc.)

And now that companies have wizened up to location-based potential, people check-in now for free drinks, their mayorship free cheeseburger, the contest for that bottle of wine, etc. There are tangible benefits now.

But not with Facebook Places. Yet (I assume).

Now, I know that Dennis Crowley (co-founder of Foursquare) has called Facebook Places “boring” and “unexciting”, but there is some potential now. What if all the check-ins went to the business Facebook page? What if there was an incentive to the company? That would cause new incentives to be created by the particular venues. They could create their own, or use a service like Izea’s We Reward.

What will be interesting is that the game mechanics of the other services make it easier on the company. Giving away a free lunch to the mayor is easier than something to everyone that checks-in. And if you have to give something away to everyone, you can bet that it will be smaller in value. Probably so small, it won’t be worth posting for.

So, in the short term, look for Facebook Places to be annoying at best here in the earlier weeks and then fading into the background. That is, until they figure out how to bring incentives to this.

But by that time, look for the evolution of the other programs to give relevant feedback on where they should go. To predict on previous visiting habits, likes and dislikes, time of day, etc. on how to help people discover new and great places. To stay ahead of the Facebook behemoth.

UPDATE: @simonowens at passed along the graphic above created by Jesse Thomas. It’s a great depiction of the relative sizes of all the major Geo Social applications. Check it out.

Peter Panda

Pioneering social media panda bear Tagawa “Peter” Panda was born on a Chinese game reserve in 1969. He emigrated to the United States in 1987 speaking no English, with only the fur on his back and $97 stored in a Jansport fanny-pack wrapped around his waist.

In 2003 while searching for food on the campus of Washington University, he discovered a computer lab where he would ultimately teach himself web development, graphic design, and immerse himself into the growing digital media evolution that was erupting at the time.

With his trademark surly demeanor developed during beatings on his boat ride from China to the U.S., as well as having a penchant for eating vast quantities of bamboo, and enjoying Scotch and cigars, Peter is broadly recognized for coining the phrase “social media” in 2004. He joined Elasticity in late 2009 as the agency’s director of social media strategy and wildlife relations. Friend him on Facebook here.

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