Facebook Asks Users to Help It Get Local Business Owners to Claim Their Places

Facebook is taking a social approach to getting local business owners to claim their Place, which is the first step to getting them to buy ads and improve the content on these Pages. Now when Facebook users visit local business Places pages that haven’t been claimed, they’ll see a link that asks “Do you know the owner?” They can then submit an email address or friend’s name, allowing Facebook to contact the owner and ask them to claim the Page.

When Facebook launched its Places location-based check-in service, it created Places pages for local businesses by pulling info from location database Localeze as well as allowing users to create Places for locations that didn’t have them. Business owners can claim their Places by submitting documentation proving ownership to Facebook. Claiming a Place allows an owner to moderate content posted to the Page’s wall, post updates to the news feed, run Check-in Deals to incentivize foot traffic, and purchase Facebook ads promoting their business.

However, to date, many Places are still unclaimed because Facebook didn’t have contact information for the owners or they didn’t respond to inquiries. To fix this, Facebook has released a feature that leverages an owner’s friends to get them to claim their businesses.

Unclaimed Places now display a “Do you know the owner?” link beneath their profile picture. Any user can click it to open a window asking “Do you think you know the owner or someone connected to this business?” A typeahead allows users to enter a friend’s name, or submit the email address if they aren’t friends with the owner or representative. Once submitted, Facebook thanks user for their help, and informs them that the person entered will receive a message explaining how they can claim their business.

Claimed Places Produce Advertising Revenue

Owners don’t need to wait for this message, though. All business owners should search Facebook for the name and address of their business to find any Places pages they’re the rightful owner of, and then begin the claims process by clicking the “Is this your business?” link beneath a Place’s profile picture. This will allow them to drive more foot traffic to their location.

Facebook has been making an effort to get rid of duplicate Places pages, but many still exist. It’s best for businesses to only have one Places page as it simplifies the check-in process for users, creates a central web presence, and makes it easier for friends to discover which friends are currently at the same location. Therefore, owners should claim the most popular Place for their business, and then report the rest as duplicates by using the “Repoort Page” option beneath the Place’s profile picture.

Finding admins for more Places pages is important to the success of Facebook Places for several reasons:

  • Admins can post relevant content to their Place’s walls or the news feeds of those that Like it
  • Admins can moderate the wall to remove spam or objectionable content
  • Admins can drive engagement with the product by incentivizing check-ins with Check-In Deals

Most importantly for Facebook’s bottom line, though, is that owner’s who’ve claimed Places and become admins are the only ones who can by Facebook ads promoting the Page. A MerchantCircle survey of local businesses owners showed that while 66% of small businesses have used Facebook for marketing, only 22% have used Facebook ads. This means there is plenty of runway for Facebook to monetize local business owners.

By allowing users to instantly create a Places page from their phone for any location they want to check in to, Facebook has likely created millions of new Pages. If it can find people to claim these Places, it could significantly increase its local advertising revenues.

[Thanks to Kevin Evanetski for the tip]

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