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Positioning Places

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The heavy hitter has hit geo-location. Once only lurking in the shadows, Facebook is now in competition with Foursquare and Gowalla with its recent introduction of  “Places.” I’m an avid Foursquare user and supporter, so from a personal standpoint, I’ve been dreading this rollout. I don’t want to see the fun underdogs squashed by the big Social Network. From a marketer’s perspective, I would be stupid to say that I’m not interested to see how this will pan out. And you know why, because Facebook has practically a zillion users. Yes, a zillion.

So far I haven’t noticed much usage from my friends. There have been a few check-ins from the geeks on my list, but other than that, nada. And I can understand why – there’s no incentive to check-in other than to quickly state, or rub into our FacebookFaces, where you are. There are no deals, special discounts, brand integration, tips or competitive aspects. That’s where Foursquare shines. That’s why I check-in.

And luckily for the underdog, Places has brought extra attention to Foursquare. Since Places launched, Fousquare has been posting some of its biggest numbers to date. But who knows how long that will last. Certainly Facebook will develop more tools for Places. Certainly big brands will come a knocking. And if great deals are made available to the masses via Facebook check-ins, then expect a Groupon-like craze. There’s also talk of Foursquare/Facebook API integration which would help both networks if, for example, Foursquare kept the competitive aspect and Facebook limited itself to mere social sharing. It simply depends on how Facebook positions itself in the geo-loco sphere.

*If you’re interested in hearing more about the current state of Foursquare, check out this AdAge Conversation with Dennis Crowley, Founder/CEO of Foursquare. In it, Dennis provides his thoughts on Places as well a few peeks into the future of the square. His opinion of FB vs 4sq social graphs is spot on too. Plus the video just shows how much cooler he is than the Zuck.

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