After months of speculation, Facebook made it official: It's in the location game. The company released its retort to Foursquare in August, a location-based check-in tool called Facebook Places that enables customers to see a map on their iPhone or other mobile device that includes your business (the Place) and a list of their Facebook friends who are currently or recently checked in there.
If you haven't claimed your Facebook Place yet, it's critical that you do so now. It's a lot like claim-jumping in the Old West. By staking your Place, you and only you can control its physical address, hours, contact info, profile image and administrators.
- The first thing you must do as an owner, manager or representative of your business is to verify that you are who you say you are. Find the Place on Facebook that you want to claim for your business and then click the link "Is this your business?"
- Complete the verification procedure to "claim" your Place. After completing some additional steps, you can access the application on your iPhone or mobile device using the new Facebook app. Once you "check in," click the "add" button and name your new Place. You can also provide a description of your business.
- After that, you can describe what you're doing at the new Place and tag Facebook fans and friends. Click "check in" and you're ready to share your visit. And now that you've got a Place of your own, your friends, customers and everyone else can find your Place while perusing Facebook or the Places app, too.
Mikal E. Belicove is a market positioning, social media, and management consultant specializing in website usability and business blogging. His latest book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Facebook, is now available at bookstores. For more information, visit MikalBelicove.com.