Facebook Places is now in the UK and other social networks that are location based must be very worried.
One of the first was Gowalla although it seems as though more people know one of its rivals, Foursquare.
Foursquare allows users to notify it when they arrive at a location and they can accumulate visits to be crowned Mayor of that location.
However, Forrester Research who surveyed nearly 43,000 people in Canada and the USA found that just 4 percent of US adults surveyed ever used these sorts of location based networking sites on their smartphones.
And only 1 percent used them more than once a week.
So either location based social networks are still only at the brink of success, like Twitter was in 2004. Or nobody really sees their benefit.
And now Facebook has provided its own massive user base with their own location based service it begs the question as to why you need to use any other service.
My main concern with this sort of service is that people know where you’re not – the office or your home. So enterprising thieves can look through a virtual window to check whether the office or home is empty and ripe for picking.
Is it useful for marketing? That’s a key question.
Certainly for gathering data about the niche users who use the service it’s very interesting. The limitation is that 80 percent of these users are men and and 70 percent are aged between 19 and 35. If that’s your demographic great! So services like Foursquare can offer some demographic data.
Foursquare has over 2 million users, but this pales into insignificance when you consider Facebooks massive numbers.
As Facebook users begin to let friends know their location through Places there’s a high likelihood that the number of people using location based networking will increase. And some of that increase will spill over to Foursquare.
So I suspect that the other location based social networks will benefit from Facebooks entry. Rather than killing their market Facebook Places will educate the potential audience.