Marketers are excited by the recent announcement by social networking giant Facebook of an upcoming location-based feature. The new feature would allow users to include their location as part of their status updates, and it is already being investigated by corporations and independent retailers alike as a means to increase brand awareness and drive offline sales.
Many companies are already planning location-based campaigns to possibly be built around the new Facebook functionality, including most notably the fast food titan McDonald's. Marketing firms are working on Facebook location features to be used by their retail clients. As of this writing, the launch date was not known, but marketing execs want to be prepared.
This would not be the first example of location-based social networking, and in fact, Facebook would be directly threatening smaller platforms like Foursquare, Gowalla and MyTown, all of whom have recently enjoyed interest from marketers looking to get into location-based campaigns. Once Facebook enters the game, however, it's possible that these smaller players will be left in the dust. Major companies that have tried location-based campaigns with other entities in the past include Starbucks, Pepsi, Bravo and MTV. However, it's not been made clear if Facebook will be charging marketers for the opportunity to take part, or if it will be a strictly user-generated feature; i.e., consumers opting to include a company logo with their own status updates.
"We never launch a functionality with the intent of monetizing it," explained Kevin Colleran, Facebook's director of national sales, in a recent article in Advertising Age. "The best case in point would be [advertisers] are frustrated. We will not allow them to buy an ad on mobile."