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Facebook’s Big Beacon Secret

Facebook beacons: What do they mean for your business?

So, Facebook recently introduced its Place Tips for businesses, offering:

“…useful information about a business or landmark—like posts from the business’ Page, upcoming events and friends’ recommendations and check-ins—and show it at the top of News Feed to in-store visitors.”

And to make Place Tips work, the social media giant recommends requesting a free Facebook beacon for your storefront, restaurant, hotel, what-have-you. Linda Bustos over at GetElastic had a fairly fantastic run-down of the pros and cons of the beacons. But buried way down in that list is a brilliant insight, suggesting Facebook could also do this:

“Collect data on response to offers, like click to claim this offer, so the advertiser could have some form of measurement, record store traffic, not just Page traffic, etc.”

Now, why’s that so brilliant? Well, quite simply, Facebook makes most of its money from advertising. And what no one has been able to consistently do at all well is connect online-to-offline. Well, until now.


First, Facebook hasn’t said they’re going to do this. I can’t imagine they won’t. But they haven’t announced it yet.

Second, I suspect they haven’t announced end-to-end measurement because:

  1. Facebook hasn’t worked out the privacy details. Facebook, for all its past missteps, appears to be getting better at treating customer privacy with respect. They’re either not sure how to protect consumer privacy in this instance (especially when small businesses/local retailers/restaurants might only drive single-digit traffic in-store), or aren’t sure how to communicate it. Or both, I suppose. And then,
  2. They don’t know if it will work. It’s also possible that Facebook will want to see the data for themselves before opening it up to its business customers. But I suspect that, if their ads really do drive foot traffic, they’ll start telling that story real quick.

I’m really curious to see where this one goes and will be testing with some of my clients over the next few months. But given that Google has started to lose search share to mobile apps, these beacons offer Facebook an amazing opportunity to steal marketing dollars from the search giant as well. And, if they do, there’s no way Facebook keeps that a secret.

Do you want learn even more about how your customers’ changing behavior shapes e-commerce and marketing? Be sure an register to receive a special report I’ve produced in conjunction with hotel marketing firm Vizergy, “Digital Hotel Marketing in a Multiscreen World.” While it’s targeted specifically at hotel and resort marketers, the lessons apply to just about any business. You can get your free copy of the report here.

You can also check out these slides and video from my recent webinar, “Digital Marketing Directions: Three Key Trends Driving Your Marketing Next Year”:

And, finally, you might want to take a look at some of our past coverage of the e-commerce, mobile commerce, and digital marketing overall, including:

Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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