Facebook is holding a press event on Wednesday afternoon that AllThingsD speculates will finally produce a location announcement (and possibly check-ins). I’ll be there as well. It’s a significant announcement I assume because they’re shuttling people from San Francisco to Palo Alto.
Facebook location has been in the works for some time. At the last Facebook press event CEO Mark Zuckerberg all but confirmed location in a verbal slip. I’m eager to see what finally is announced.
So far location on Twitter hasn’t set the world on fire so, by extension, it’s far from clear that simply introducing location on Facebook will have a material impact on the local segment or radically alter the way in which people use the service. Execution will be paramount.
Will Facebook build pages and content around locations similar to the way that Google has done with Places? It would be interesting and potentially useful but I’m quite not sure we’ll see anything like that. (Though the rumor is that Facebook has a deal with Localeze for its database.) Will location be integrated into business pages? Maybe, but that won’t necessarily add much to the current experience.
We may well see geotagging of posts, similar to Twitter, which would create lots of additional, potentially geographically relevant content — emphasis on potentially. Managing the signal-to-noise ratio of content on Facebook is a challenge across the board.
If Facebook integrates check-ins, whether their own and/or other services’, it will be more interesting than pure location. The Like button and check-in data are two new important pieces of information about the local market. They’re alternatives to reviews or supplement reviews as sources of local recommendations.
For obvious reasons, I used this list from Urbanspoon more than once last week in Anchorage Alaska:
Then I validated and got more color from Yelp. Likes and check-ins broadly are making it possible to create these lists in a number of categories, which will grow over time.
Obviously you won’t check in to Greg’s plumbing. And check-ins don’t equal endorsements; I’ve checked in to plenty of places that I didn’t “Like.” But in the aggregate check-ins are valuable data about popularity. Indeed, everyone in the local segment should be considering something like what LikeList is doing and “aggregating Likes.”
Facebook has made it possible for third parties to access the Like data; don’t delay. By adding check-ins Facebook will create another valuable source of data, on top of Foursquare and other LBS sources, for publishers and developers to tap for content and/or their algorithms.