If you use Facebook places well, you can generate a lot of buzz and publicity around your business, often for free. In fact, most of the buzz and publicity will be generated by your own users, with just a little prompting from you.
Here’s a checklist for using Facebook Places effectively, from the most essential fundamentals to more creative marketing techniques
1. Be an Active User
In order to really understand how people use Facebook Places, and to get into your customer’s heads so you can figure out what they want and how to serve them, you need to actually be a user of Facebook Places.
Use Facebook Places yourself to find restaurants, connect with friends and to make decisions on where you spend your time.
Pay attention to how you choose where to go, what impresses you and what turns you off about how other business owners have configured their Places.
2. Combine Your Page and Your Place
Upon completing the verification process for claiming your business, you’ll be able to join your page and your place.
Join your page and your place allows you to have a place with a wall where people can post comments, while still having a presence on Facebook Places. It gives you the best of both worlds.
3. Have Detailed, Professional Photos
Your photos will have a lot of influence over whether or not someone clicks on your place on Facebook.
It’ll also influence decisions on whether or not to go to your business. If there are three restaurants near them and one has spectacular photos while the others don’t, there’s a good chance they’ll go to that one restaurant.
Consider hiring a professional photographer and/or a professional graphic designer to help you get these photos.
Example: A noodle soup restaurant with close-up shots of their noodles.
4. Description, Address, Website & Other Information
First and foremost, make sure the address, phone number and website information is complete, up to date and accurate. People will use your Facebook Place to try to find you or learn more about your business, so it’s crucial that all the information there is completed.
To add more info, just click “Edit” on a page or place that you own.
Then fill out the information.
5. Encourage Providers to Post & Host Discussions
Encourage service providers in your business to post on your wall and host discussions about their services.
For example, if you run a spa, have your masseuses post their massage times, client reviews, new techniques, etc all on your wall.
If you run a live music venue, have the bands interact with fans on your wall. Have them use it to announce up-to-the-minute news about the event.
Get the other people in your business involved. Everyone can play a hand in increasing the popularity of your wall.
6. Rewards for Checking In & Posting on Your Wall
While Facebook Places doesn’t have “badges” like Foursquare, there’s nothing preventing you from giving out your own rewards.
It could be something as simple as giving away a free meal to the person who checks into your business the most this month.
Announce the contest on your wall, then give an update on who’s winning twice a week or so. Keep up the competitive spirit, change the prizes around every month and build up some buzz around your business.
7. Run Facebook Ads
Facebook gives preferential treatment to ads that keep users in their system rather than sending them out. It gets higher approval rates (almost 100%) and often lower CPCs.
Facebook allows you to run ads directly to pages and places. While you may not always want to be running ads, a well-timed ad right before a major event or launch can make a big difference.
8. Tie In With Events at Your Venue
One very effective way to take advantage of Facebook Places is to host events. These events, when posted on your place’s wall, will appear as a clickable link.
Having events allows you to promote the event to the users of your place, as well as promote your place to people attending the event.
9. Ask Your Customers for Their Favorite Stories!
How do you increase user participation? Just ask!
A well-placed question, like “what’s your favorite story at [your business]” or “what topic would you like for our next open mic?” could easily spark a cascade of discussion, responses and shares.
10. Give Your Customers Special Deals
How about a free coffee if they order breakfast on a certain day? Or announce your customer loyalty program?
There are many ways to use your page and place to your advantage. Don’t overdo it with the promotions, but a well-timed discount every now and then can help boost sales for several days or weeks.
These are some of the most important fundamentals, as well as a few more creative and advanced marketing tactics. Facebook Places is still pretty new, but business owners who’re putting in the time to learn it are finding that it really pays off.