A new way for business to use Facebook data at street level

The idea is simple: Allow people to use their Facebook logins to access free Wi-Fi in business establishments from small family-owned restaurants to international airports.

Launched in the USA, working with Cisco, Facebook persuades its users to give up location data in return for using free Wi-Fi supplied by Cisco. It enables Cisco and the local businesses an easy way to connect with consumers.

Facebook analytics can determine the age range, gender breakdown, locations and interests of people who accessed Wi-Fi using a Facebook login. Providing rich location-based data for local businesses to analyse and use.

Retailers using the Wi-Fi system can target ads to audience segments comprised of people who have visited their establishments and also understand the types of people coming into their stores, restaurants and businesses.

As reported in Ad Age, Erick Tseng, product manager, special products at Facebook said, “This is a major step toward getting into the local space.” Facebook will not track any web browsing activity or any other interactions through the Wi-Fi system once people check-in to Wi-Fi spots through Facebook, he said.

In the US, Facebook has found interest in the service among retailers, restaurants, conference centres, amusement parks, and even churches reports Ad Age. But while Facebook and Cisco claim 1000 retailers across 50 countries registered to the service, major brands have been slow to sign up.

In terms of the SME and geo-location aspect this is a major win for Facebook who have been hoping to infiltrate the SME sector for years.

Can Australian SMEs be hoping Facebook will offer a similar service here?

Unfortunately I couldn’t get a confirmation from Facebook, but it wouldn’t be a far stretch to see how Telstra and Facebook could work together to offer this service to the high street. The alternative is to simply market it yourself as a small business. When a consumer checks in, or provides some data to you, reward them with access to your Wi-Fi free and offer ongoing vouchers and promotions based on locality.

Fi Bendall is the managing director of Bendalls Group, a team of highly trained digital specialists, i-media subject matter experts and developers.


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