Friends’ Popular Places Module Reveals Check-In Trends to Facebook Users

Facebook is now showing users a Friends’ Popular Places module while they are viewing their news feed or other areas of the site. The module shows Places where many of your friends have checked in, helping users discover Places that they too might be interested in visiting.

Facebook is building out the Places product from a simple location service to include secondary features which were previously only available in third-party location services, or through Facebook apps such as PlacePop.

Since the launch of Places, Facebook has made a number of product updates including adding a Recent Checkins module, and allowing users to tag additional friends in a check-in after it is made. The original feature set was kept relatively tight, though, providing an opportunity for applications like PlacePop and BetaPond’s I Spy Places to utilize the Places API to build apps which show users more information about the check-ins of friends.

Meanwhile, apps like Context Optional’s Leaderboard and BetaPond’s Loyalty Builder offer check-in leaderboards with which businesses can run promotions.

Now, with Facebook testing a check-in incentive system for businesses called Deals and this Friends’ Popular Places module, Facebook is potentially reducing the need for some of these third-party apps.

At the top of the right sidebar while viewing photos, events or their news feed, users will see Places which have received check-ins from multiple friends. The module may factor proximity to the user into the algorithm which decides which Places to show, as we are only seeing local Places in the module. Users can click through a Place’s name to visit its Places page. There is no way for users seeking to learn of new Places which are popular with their friends to purposefully generate the module, and it may not be rolled out to all users yet.

The new module signals that developers should be cautious about devoting resources to building simple, practical Places apps while the Places product is still under active augmentation. Facebook could create a native interface or in-house promotion system which could overshadow their apps.

Sara Inés Calderón contributed to this article.

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