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Top Five Ways to Use Facebook Places Effectively

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This week, Facebook officially rolled out Facebook Places, its location-based service (LBS). Places allows you to easily "check in" where you are and share the friends you're with in real time from your mobile device. After you check in, your update will appear on the Place's page, your friends' News Feed and also your Facebook wall. You'll also be able to see if any of your friends are at your current location, and you can browse the updates of your friends who are checked in at locations nearby.

Facebook PlacesBefore Places, location-based services like foursquare, Gowalla, and scvngr were primarily used by early-adopters. In other words, about 500 million Facebook users just got thrown into the deep-end of the pool and will quickly realize how great LBS can be at connecting with friends, places, etc. Whether or not you're ready with a comprehensive strategy for using location, they're coming -- fast. This means that the time to get your strategy together for how to effectively use location to reach, engage, and empower brand activists is right now.

Here are my five ways to use Facebook Places:

1. Own Your Place
While some, perhaps your competition, will be slow to embrace Places, it is yet another opportunity to drive the message of your brand. Be the first to go through the process of Claiming Your Place so that you can manage how it's being read by those who are checking-in or are curious because they're seeing their friends check-in at your Place. Add some personality to add authenticity and give yet another reason to visit (beyond meeting with you).

2. Watch Your Competition
Keep tabs on the way your competition is using Places and be ready to make counter-offers via advertising, which I'm sure will be available soon, to those who are visiting your competition.

3. Be Aggressive, Seek the Check-In
Make no mistake, you want people to check-in at your Place which will broadcast to their network that your organization matters enough to that person to physically visit. Therefore, be proactive and ask visitors (and staff) to participate by checking-in. If possible, stage an entire area of the room where folks are asked to "Check-in" with a cut-out of your brand for a photo-op, to collect swag, or simply engage them with a playful little ask. Forget the guest log - replace it with your public Facebook Place.

4. Seek User Engagement on Check-ins
Every piece of content you add to Facebook is an opportunity to get engagement - - and you absolutely want those who check-in seeking engagement from their community to help spread your Place even further through the Social Graph. Perhaps you could hold a contest where if a user is able to get 50 "Likes" on a check-in you reward that person with a great piece of swag.

5. Have Visitors Tell Stories About Your Place
Like a recommendation on LinkedIn, ask your clients or top customers to give a review of your place. Ask them to share a story about your Place -- perhaps a great idea session you all had or a gathering where they connected with someone really great. Tap into the emotions that make your place unique.

In closing, anytime Facebook launches a feature that could change the world overnight, it's important to ensure you're comfortable with embracing that feature by checking out your privacy settings.

So these are my five quick tips on how to use Places. Is there anything you would add? If so, join our conversation on the DAG Facebook page and share your thoughts.

David All is President of the David All Group and the founder of act.ivi.st, a platform for activism built on Facebook Connect. Indeed, he's on Twitter -- follow him.

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