Facebook has confirmed with us that it has started bringing Facebook Places functionality to some Pages representing physical spaces. Some Pages that list a street address, such as local businesses and public places, may be checked in to via Facebook’s location-based service Places, and may offer incentives for visiting in person through Checkin Deals.
Facebook tells us this automatic merge of Pages and Places “makes things easier for Page administrators”. We agree that it is a better solution than the now removed option to manually merge Places with Pages. By expanding the number of Pages that can run Checkin Deals, Facebook may be looking to drive user awareness and engagement with the product and earn money off of it through ads promoting the incentives.
When Places launched in August, owners of physical spaces could claim their Place, and also had the option to merge claimed Places with Pages. At the time, merged Places pages used the unfamiliar left-side navigation menu layout that wouldn’t be rolled out to until February. They also lacked some functionality of Pages, there were some bugs in the merging process, and they couldn’t be unmerged, making it a somewhat difficult decision for admins.
Facebook later temporarily provided an unmerge option but then revoked the abilities to merge or unmerge last month, possibly in anticipation of a shift towards this automatic merging.
Meanwhile, Facebook launched Checkin Deals in November that can be used to incentivize checkins with discounts or charity donations. Since then, though, few businesses have offered Checkin Deals, few users are aware of them let alone have redeemed them, and attention has shifted toward’s Facebook’s prepaid coupon service called simply Deals. These facts signal that Facebook needs to do a better job with outreach and accessibility — two things assisted by this change.
Now, Pages that list a physical address may show a “Friend Activity” tab that displays the checkins to that location by a user’s friends. This can give users a sense of what it’s like to be at the physical location the Page represents, and learn about what’s happening there in real time. If a Places page with the same name and address already exists, it may be rolled into the official Page.
Admins of these automatically merged Pages may also see a prompt at the top of their Pages notifying them that they can run Checkin Deals. They can also see a Deals tab in the left-side navigation menu of the Edit Pages admin interface. Facebook has been slowly rolling out the self-serve tool for creating Checkin Deals to more properties, including some Pages, since the feature’s launch.
As Pages typically have many more fans and more engaged admins than Places, the expansion of Places and Checkin Deals functionality to them should work to familiarize users with Facebook’s location-based services. Admins may be waiting for a clear success story before integrating Checkin Deals, so Facebook may be hoping the expansion of the feature to Pages might produce one of these cases. This could open the flood gate for businesses to start using and advertising for the incentives.