Location-based social media has rapidly taken off over the past two years – just look at Foursquare. Now it’s the turn of Facebook to enter the fray. But just hours after Facebook named its ‘Places’ at a news conference, many have been sounding the demise of Foursquare and other location-based channels – not me. Why?
Well, Facebook is, let’s face it, up there when it comes to online social communities. Millions of subscribers worldwide interacting (mainly friend networks), using the application to chat, message, post photos and tell everyone what they’re doing. It’s developed, taking on board the best bits of Twitter and now Foursquare, to provide a one-stop social shop. All sounds great. And from a PR/marketing perspective I think it’s a great platform for users and, more importantly, businesses to interact with key, targeted audiences.
Bringing location-based posting was bound to happen. It was far from a secret. However, Facebook remains limited. Yes, I did say that. The benefits of Twitter and Foursquare are that they are standalone systems that allow you to connect them to other systems that you might want to share your location with. You have almost complete control over where your location posts are sent to (unless that information is forwarded or divulged by others as in ANY network). More importantly, they are independent and standalone social networks in their own right. Okay, Facebook will allow you to control your settings and you can feed Facebook posts into Twitter and other networks. However, once your information leaves Facebook, the only links it provides are back into its own system. And here lies the problem. If you’re not on Facebook you have no way of connecting to that link, other than by subscribing. So the location information it provides is irrelevant unless you are a user.
However, if you use Twitter or Fourquare to provide your location details, you can feed these into Facebook for these users to view, but others outside the network can see them easily through the more open Twitter and Foursquare channels which are more easily accessible or to subscribe to without divulging too much personal information. This is vitally important if you want to reach as wide an audience as possible based on your GPS or “near to” location. From a commercial perspective I wouldn’t want to be limited to just Facebook users and, affectively, locking out other important users who are not subscribed to it.
My personal Facebook account is just that – personal. Friends and friends alone. It’s not part of my wider ‘professional’ social media circle. Whereas Twitter, blogs, websites, etc are my “open” channel to my PR and marketing networks. So I want to channel my location-based information to where it is required – just like any comments, links or photos/videos I post. They’re targeted to professional or personal audiences. That’s where separate systems like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare, LinkedIn and others are vital and healthy for the social network.