Irish developer BetaPond has released two applications which integrate Facebook Places. LoyaltyBuilder is a branded multi-venue checkin leaderboard tab application which helps businesses encourage users to check in to specific Places. I Spy Places is a simple Places dashboard which lets users see a map and list of check-ins by them or any one friend at a time.
Along with the user interface for Places, Facebook released read and search APIs, with a write API on the way. Using the first two, developers can pull information from users about their checkins and use the data to power applications; BetaPond’s LoyaltyBuilder and I Spy Places are some of the first apps to make use of these APIs.
One issue with Places for multi-national brands or businesses with multiple physical locations is that they may have multiple Places to which they want to encourage checkins. Some Places leaderboards, like the ones made by Context Optional, only allow Pages to track checkins to a single Place. LoyaltyBuilder lets brands monitor checkins to multiple Places, and total checkins and points from across the different Places to gives users a score and ranking. Brands can add a description of their loyalty program or message of of encouragement within the app. By offering recognition to users who check in to a brand’s Places most frequently, the app incentivizes users to make the checkins, sharing their affiliation with the Places to their network.
Brands can also use the app to conduct rewards contests, for instance rewarding a prize or discount to whoever is at the top of the leaderboard at a certain time. BetaPond can further customize LoyaltyBuilder to client specifications in addition to the self-service app. Brands can get great exposure from users checking in to their Places, so apps which remind and reward users to do so are a smart move for businesses.
I Spy Places lets users see all of a person’s checkins on one screen. The default view and My Places tab show a user’s own check-ins in a list and as icons on a map. The Where Have My Friends Been button brings up a row of profile pictures of friends above the map. Users can click a friend to see their checkin history. The app lacks analytics and a current checkin feed provided by PlacePop’s power user dashboard, and only viewing one friend at once isn’t especially useful. Some users may enjoy the ability to quickly visit the Places page of any Place a friend has checked in to.
Developers are just beginning to explore how to use the Places APIs. To date, apps have focused mainly on tracking check-ins after they’ve been made, but we expect more which help users connect with others currently at the same Place to be released soon.