Yesterday, Facebook made a long awaited announcement of their newest service offering: Places.  Facebook Places is the newest location based service (LBS) to hit the market, a year and a half after the launch of Foursquare and three years after Gowalla.

It was only a matter of time until the world’s largest social network would integrate a geolocation component.  And with the proliferation of smartphones–according to ComSore 45.5 million Americans own one–access is no longer a challenge.  

Nonprofits have been quick adopters of new ways to connect with participants and donors.  Nonprofit fundraising has been made easier by utilizing social networking technologies, email campaigns, and mobile applications.  Here are some considerations you should address before integrating Facebook Places into your nonprofit marketing campaign.  All of these questions should be addressed before investing a lot of manpower in developing a Facebook Places program.

  1. Are your constituents early adopters?
  2. What are the demographics of your base?
  3. How will I measure success?
  4. Are there potential privacy concerns?
  5. Who on my team will manage promotion of the new component?

While we will caution you from jumping into a new platform too quickly (we all saw what happened to Google Wave) there are quite a few opportunities that Facebook Places offers.

  1. Large base of users – 500 million and growing.  This will allow for widespread access that other platforms like Foursquare and Gowalla haven’t had.  
  2. CRM potential – Charlene Li and Susan Etlinger make a great argument for Places as a way to increase brand awareness and engagement.  
  3. Cost effective.  Places is a free tool.   Like many other social media platforms, the only cost is manpower and creativity.  

What are your thoughts on Places?  Do you think that Facebook’s poor handling of the privacy change will affect the number of users that utilize the Places feature?

Some additional reading on Facebook Places:

 

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