Just when you thought you had a handle on the latest wave of geo social networking services like FourSquare and Gowalla, Facebook has jumped into the business of letting people “check-in” to their favorite locations. Actually, our guess is that you have not heard of FourSquare or Gowalla. These services and the new Facebook Places let people register when they arrive at restaurants, bars, conferences, airports and other locations. This lets people tell their friends where they are for impromptu meetings. More importantly, a business can reward customers who frequent their business and build community with information about upcoming events and promotions.
Facebook Places works on the mobile Facebook application and allows you to “check-in” when you arrive at a business. You can see if you have other friends nearby. Facebook’s new service is important because they already have over 500 million people with registered profiles so they can enter this business as the leader without much effort.
While the usage of this service is relatively small compared to other Facebook services, you should expect it to grow and provide another way of building a community on Facebook.