As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I’m not the world’s biggest fan of geo-location services like Facebook Places and Foursquare. I can see the value, but it’s not great enough for me to be bothered about doing it for myself. I enjoyed the novelty factor of it all when it first came on to the scene, yet I struggled to stay interested in it as people started to spam each other with their irrelevant location.
Anyway, there is a buzz on the interwebs at the moment that could change the way we all see location. In very broad and sweeping terms, Facebook could be on its way to becoming the world’s biggest bank. It makes total sense when you think about it. As ‘The Next Web’ informs us, savvy brands are already facilitating some purchases through their Facebook pages. However, this is still pretty limited in its scope. It would be relatively simple for Facebook to allow its 600 million or so users to start buying all kinds of products and services directly on Facebook. It would go from being the facilitator to the transactor and suddenly start making infinitely more money.
Facebook is teaming up with Goldman Sachs to speed up this journey towards taking more web traffic and advertising revenue from Google. What may also happen in the not too distant future is Facebook taking on the world’s banks. There is a severe lack of trust within the finance sector and Facebook, despite occasional communication issues with users, has the power to make itself more than just a social hub. It’s scary to think we could do one day do almost everything online through Facebook, but it’s not inconceivable.
Moving on to the relevance for geo-location, if we can start to do more than just get discounts for coffee, checking in becomes relevant and meaningful for more people. Imagine if you could see a history of all your friends previous purchases at any store, anywhere in the world. And imagine if you could pay for a product or service via your Facebook account on your smartphone. Suddenly credit and debit cards become superfluous and we can do more on one device and on one account – our Facebook account.
If it isn’t obvious already, the relevance of all this for marketers is that Facebook will remain a huge part of what we do, even if it isn’t all purely social. Moreover, brands need to be thinking about how they can continue to differentiate themselves from competitors in a world that is threatening to become increasingly homogenous.