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Confessions of a Facebook Narcissist:
A Case for Facebook Places
by JESSICA ITZEL, Social Media Marketing Account Coordinator
JUN 24, 2011
My name is Jessica and I suffer from Chronic Facebook Overshare Syndrome. Alarmingly contagious, this condition manifests itself in the form of daily status updates, mobile uploads, and what some have called an overzealous number of Places check-ins. Not to mention unseen side effects like the compulsive need to hit refresh on “Most Recent News,” or the desire to casually peruse friends’ 984 tagged pictures while mentally cataloging our mutual “Likes.” I just like to know what’s going on, okay?
This confession serves to preface my stance in the Foursquare vs. Facebook Places battle that rages on in the world of marketing blogs and in the screenlit chats of geo-location enthusiasts. I’m here to swear my loyalty to Team Facebook Places, and before any of my Foursquare friends accuse me of hypocrisy, I’ll admit that I use both. But that’s because I quite honestly don’t know how to handle myself when I have to wait more than five seconds for a table or when I’m standing in any formation resembling a line.
Yet if pushed to choose between the two, I’d side with Facebook Places without question. And my reasoning isn’t based on numbers or statistics, but on one thing that we all know yet don’t want to admit (avert your eyes, Mom and Dad, because I know you’re convinced that a Facebook post gone awry will result in me getting burgled or worse).
Here’s the secret about me and most of the people I know: I want people to know where I am and what I’m doing.
If we’re honest, we’ve all got a little bit of the mythological Narcissus in us. The only difference is that the image of ourselves we can’t seem to tear ourselves away from is reflected on a computer screen, not a Grecian pool. We love seeing the way we appear to others, and we love when other people notice us. Admit it – you stand just a little taller when you hear the self-validating “ping” of a new Facebook notification. You collect “Likes” as if they’re the adult equivalent of gold star stickers. New friend requests are proof that you’re putting yourself out there, making friends, having fun.
But it’s not just an obsession with ourselves that we’re cultivating on Facebook; it’s that we are, more than ever, in control of how other people view us. We just want to be “Liked.” It’s human nature, an understanding of which Facebook has capitalized on – and something that smart marketers can take advantage of, too.
Which brings me back to Facebook Places. Ultimately, I check in at a given place to share some insight into my life with my friends, coworkers, family members and even those people who fall into the “maybe I met you but have no idea who you are” friend category.
I want local friends to see that I’m at the corner bar so they can meet up for a drink. I want my sixth grade frenemy to know that I grew out of that awkward hair phase and am now seated at the salon whose waitlist spans the duration of an entire human gestation period. I want my foodie friends to see that I’m dining on kangaroo and pear cactus at that quirky new fusion restaurant in the city. I want my former soccer coach to notice my regular gym check-ins and accept them as a belated apology for the daggers I shot at him with my eyes for making me run sprints after practice.
Sure, I can check in at any of these places on Foursquare and a handful of people will see. If they go to the trouble of looking. Alternately, I can check in using Facebook, where my location pops up on my profile and takes its rightful place on the news feeds of hundreds of my closest friends, even those without smartphones.
I know I said I wouldn’t, but let’s talk numbers. If we take the average number of friends people have on Foursquare and Facebook (5-8 and 229, respectively), there’s a potential for at least 221 more people to see my check-in on Facebook . Which is a lot more. 2762% more. And if I tag my friends in my Facebook check-in? You don’t need an exact percentage to figure out that exposure to hundreds of people is more beneficial for your business than a tiny fraction of that.
For those of you with a hankering for more statistics, Facebook just reached 750 million active users. Foursquare claims a mere 1.3% of that number with 10 million users. More numbers, you say? Thirty million people were Facebook Places users as of last October. Which is, math lovers, three times the total number of people currently on Foursquare.
Okay, okay, I know people can “share” their Foursquare check-ins on their various social networks. But only 20% of people push their check-ins to Facebook and Twitter. Thank God – the only thing more annoying than seeing the big square Foursquare map clogging up my Facebook newsfeed is when someone posts about a catastrophic failure of their internet corn or a bad sale of virtual livestock.
My point is that if I’m going to check in somewhere, I’m going to do it where my online self and my online friends live. Which is why, if you’re a business, you want me to check in to your Place on Facebook. Some people may need a little more coaxing to check in, but creating a Facebook Deal is a simple trade-off for all of those impressions.
If I come to your place, I will be your best word of mouth marketer. You won’t even have to pay me for it. You may never even meet me. But the chance is pretty high that one of my 900+ friends will find themselves thinking of you after they’ve seen your name alongside “Most delicious sandwich I’ve ever eaten” or “Relaxing at the spa!” or “OMG Best bar in the universe!!!!!!!!!”