What in the World Are Facebook Beacons? (And 3 Reasons Why You Need One)

facebook_beaconsIf you own or operate a brick-and-mortar business of any kind, a Facebook beacon might just be your new best friend. Yes…it sounds like something from Star Trek, but Facebook beacons are actually a very practical tool you can use to double down on your social media efforts with customers who physically visit your business. So what exactly are Facebook beacons, and how do they work? Below is a primer on what Facebook beacons are all about, and three reasons why you should think about getting one for your business.

Facebook Beacons and Place Tips

As the name suggests, a Facebook beacon is a small device that you can install in your physical business location that will interact with customers who open up Facebook’s app on their smartphone while visiting your business. The beacon functions by way of Bluetooth wireless technology, emitting signals that instruct Facebook’s app to display certain information about your business to customers whenever they use Facebook in your real-world location.

This information-sharing feature is known as Place Tips, and it’s available to any business owner who’s set up a Facebook Page for their business. So when a customer walks into your store, restaurant, studio, etc., and they open up Facebook on their mobile device, they’ll automatically see a Place Tips display on their screen with information such as:

  • A photo and welcome note from your business
  • Interactive prompts that encourage them to like your Facebook Page and check in
  • Recent posts you’ve published via your Facebook Page
  • Upcoming events, popular menu items, current promotions, etc.
  • Reviews or recommendations about your business from their friends

Place tips was first introduced in January of this year, but was only initially available to a small handful of businesses in New York City for testing purposes. Facebook has since opened up Place Tips to all businesses across the United States, and has offered to provide business owners with free beacons for their real-world establishments. The beacon can be physically installed on a wall or any other flat surface in your business location, and is currently compatible with iPhone 4S or later devices, or any smartphone that has the latest version of the Facebook for iOS app.

Why You Need a Facebook Beacon

1. It provides your visitors with helpful and important information about your business, which can enhance their in-store experience. A Facebook beacon essentially acts as a virtual sales clerk, giving your visitors a quick run-down of what your business is all about, as well as any type of deals, promotions or events that may be going on at the moment. This can aid your customers in making informed buying decisions, and can create a stronger bond with your brand.

2. More exposure and engagement for your business on social media. What Facebook has done is basically afford you an additional layer of social interaction for people who like your business enough to pay you a visit. Keep in mind that in-store visitors will see reviews and recommendations regarding your business from any of their Facebook friends who may have visited in the past. Word-of-mouth remains the most potent form of advertising; having a Facebook beacon in place will provide a more meaningful experience for your customers, because they’ll more than likely take their friends’ opinions and experiences into account when shopping or otherwise interacting with your business.

3. It gives your visitors a more personalized experience. Most mobile users are regularly inundated with push notifications and promotional messages from all kinds of brands, so the ability to provide your customers with relevant information about your business at what would generally be regarded as the peak of their buying interest (i.e., a visit to your store) will make a big difference in terms of creating a meaningful experience for them.

Beacon technology is still very much in its infancy, but Facebook’s new beacon initiative represents an important step toward providing businesses with better and more innovative ways to connect with their customers.

If you haven’t yet ordered a beacon for your physical business location, you can do so by visiting the Facebook Bluetooth Beacons page here. Keep in mind that beacons are only available for businesses that have already set up a Facebook Page, so if you haven’t done that yet, go ahead and create your Page so that you can start taking advantage of this powerful tool.

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