Adaline Lau | February 16, 2011
Hong Kong – Facebook Places, a feature that allows users to check in and share their locations with friends is now available in Hong Kong and Singapore.
The feature is similar to existing location-based services (LBS) such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Jiepang that are increasingly gaining interest among retailers and food and beverage outlets as a marketing platform for advertising and promotional activities.
Some companies in Singapore and Hong Kong have started using LBS in their marketing campaigns. Fashion retailer Topshop and Topman engaged social media agency Vocanic to launch a consumer loyalty promotion on Foursquare in Singapore last May.
In Hong Kong, Jiepang launched its service in November 2010 by partnering with Ocean Park and telecom operator 3 Hong Kong that encouraged consumers to collect virtual “badges” by checking in on their mobile devices at the theme park and 3Shops to redeem special offers and discounts for admission tickets and handset subscriptions during the Christmas season.
With the availability of Facebook Places, will more brands in Hong Kong and Singapore consider integrating the feature for their marketing campaigns?
For Toys “R” Us Asia, Facebook is now an integral part of the retailer’s marketing mix. Argha Sen, regional head of marketing and CRM for Toys “R” Us Asia, said they use the social networking site to communicate with fans by sharing news, information, and videos, as well as driving traffic to its stores; and so they would be interested to use Facebook Places in future campaigns, especially since the retailer has just started integrating Foursquare into its mobile app.
However, Sen is concerned how Facebook Places is going to be different from Foursquare and what extra features it offers. They will also gauge consumer interest and response to the “check-in” concept through response from its current Foursquare integration.
Whether marketers will embrace Facebook Places or not will depend on user behavior and scalability, Andrew Wong, digital director at Starcom Mediavest Hong Kong said. Checking in to locations on social platforms is still not common among consumers here, but because of the mass reach on Facebook, it will allow more people to access location-based tools and technology that will facilitate adoption and scale faster than existing location-based services, he explained.
In terms of reach, Facebook has 3.9 million monthly active users in Hong Kong and 2.3 million users in Singapore.
While Facebook Places will accelerate the interest to check in, agency professionals such as Vocanic CEO Ian McKee said what they are still waiting for is Facebook Deals that will allow brands to take an action against user check-ins and is the mechanism to manage that process.
In Asia, Facebook Places is also available in Japan and Australia.