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On the evening of August 18th, Facebook launched its new geo tagging service, Facebook Places.

This “check-in” service is a cheap facsimile of what Foursquare, Gowalla and others have already done. However, with its ocean of users (500 million to date, compared to current leader Foursquare), Facebook is bringing geopositioning to the masses.

We could dwell on the business approach behind Facebook’s launch of a service that is very similar to those of other providers (In fact, Facebook attempted to buy Foursquare a short while ago), but really, their sales pitch is what I want to address here.

During the unveiling, Christopher Cox, VP product, emphasized the potential of collective memory instead of the instantaneous aspect of this type of service. While all the others focus on “what your friends are doing right then and there”, Facebook is presenting its Places as the service that will tell you a story. Now, that’s some nice storytelling placement in a product presentation.

Here’s how storytelling sets one product apart, as told by Cox.

Too many of our human stories are still collecting dust on the shelves of our collections at home. Those stories are going to be placed. Those stories are going to be pinned to a physical location so that maybe one day in 20 years our children will go to Ocean Beach in San Francisco, and their little magical thing will start to vibrate and say, ‘This is where your parents first kissed.’

We immediately get a different feeling, the story seems to relate to our values, our memories. That’s much stronger than “Come see where your friends are at!!” (willful use of the double exclamation mark).

In advertising, telling a story can make the difference in how we perceive a product and a brand. We pound it over and over again, but here we have a great example.

Will Facebook Places hit the target? We’ll see. Is it a perfect product, free of any privacy issues? Certainly not. But that’s for another post.

(photo via ReadWriteWeb)


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