If your business is a brick and mortar location that customers visit in person, odds are good that it will end up in Facebook Places whether you put it there or not. Even if you don’t choose to take advantage of Facebook Places to promote business, you should still claim ownership of your place to ensure the information is accurate.
With half a billion Facebook members, odds are good that at least a few of them are your customers. That means there is a likelihood that someone will “check-in” to Facebook Places at your place of business and your establishment will have a Facebook Places page whether you intend to use it or not.
You don’t have to bother claiming your Place. But, if it’s going to be there anyway, you may as well at least manage and maintain the basic details. By claiming the Facebook Place you are able to edit the address, business hours, profile picture, contact information, and other settings such as designating admins authorized to alter the Places page.
If your Facebook Place doesn’t exist yet, you can use the smartphone Facebook app to check-in at your business to create it. Once your business has a Facebook Place, there is a link at the bottom that says “Is this your business?” Click that to begin the verification process.
Claiming your Place requires some supporting evidence–so random strangers should be prevented from claiming your Facebook Place. Aside from basic information like the name, URL, and address of the business, the Claim Place page also asks for the Federal EIN (Employee Identification Number), and requires that you upload a scan of official documents.
You can choose from articles of certificate of incorporation, certificate of formation, local business license, or Better Business Bureau accreditation. Once you submit the necessary information, the Place still does not automatically become yours. You receive a message stating “Thanks, your inquiry has been forwarded to the Facebook Team.” You also receive an e-mail confirming the submission and notifying you to “Stand by as we should be back with you soon.”
According to the Facebook Help Center, you can also advertise your Facebook Place on Facebook. The Help Center FAQ explains “To advertise your Place, click “I want to advertise something I have on Facebook” in the ad creation flow and choose your Place from the drop-down menu.”
Facebook Places is new to the location-based check-in game. Some elements–like the ability to target marketing at Facebook users who have only checked in to your business–don’t exist yet (although I am fairly sure they will be tacked on sooner rather than later). However, you can target specials and promotions at Facebook users who “Like” your Facebook Place page.
I recommend that businesses embrace the location-based check-in concept and use it as a powerful tool for marketing and to build repeat customers. But, even if you don’t plan to advertise your Facebook Place page, or target promotional specials at Facebook fans that have checked-in to your business, if the Facebook Place for your business is going to be out there anyway, you better take ownership of it and at least make sure the information it reflects is accurate.