Re/Code reported yesterday that Facebook is expanding its Place Tips program and making free beacons available to retailers. The program, first tested in Brooklyn 6 months ago, installs a beacon into the local business and pushes current posts and photos for the business to your phone while you are in that location.
If you are standing in line at a participating retailer and engage with Facebook you will see “more info about places you visit, including your friends’ photos, experiences and moments from that place” and be prompted to like the business’s Facebook page.
According to Engadget you will experience “a “tip” notification for the place that you’re at when you launch Facebook. Tap it, and it’ll show a series of cards about the place. Not only will you see the aforementioned posts and photos from your friends, but you’ll also see basic info about the business”.
While the capabilities of the program are currently somewhat limited from the retailer POV and no advertising is permited, it pushes the retailer posts directly to the users stream and is delivered on an opt out basis to users. The potential seems huge given Facebook’s reach.
Facebook determines your location with a combination of cellular networks, Wi-Fi, GPS and Facebook Bluetooth® beacons. For now Place tips are limited to the Facebook app for the iPhone and Location services must be enabled for place tips to work.
This marks the first time that beacon technology to interact with customers is being made available at scale to every business. While it might not appeal to a Macy’s that can implement their own beacon hardware and software stack, it now makes the option available for every Mom & Pop to participate with in-store customer interactions. And I see no reason why even Macy’s would not use the Facebook program to compliment their own. As such this makes the program important. Facebook is the first to push the technology out to such a broad audience.
Here is the form to request your free beacon. I would love to hear from folks that implement or have implemented this with your observations.
Update: Sandro was kind enough to provide a screen shot of Facebook’s SMB promotional push along this front:
Facebook Makes Retail Beacons Available for Free by Mike Blumenthal