We talk a lot about the enormous amount of competition you face online, but there is just as much competition in person for those with brick-and-mortar locations. When people are walking through a long line of stores and shops, how do you get yours to stand out?
Facebook has come up with a new way to address this with their Bluetooth Beacon, which will send relevant users alerts when they’re in or very, very near your business.
Facebook’s Bluetooth Beacons may not be for everyone, so we’re going to go over what they are, if you should get one for your business, and how you can.
What is Facebook’s Bluetooth Beacon?
When a customer is in (or as I’ve seen in some cases, very near) your business, they’ll get your business’s Place Tips delivered to their phone when they open Facebook. Place tips will give them information about your business that you’ve created specifically for them, including:
- A welcome note and photo
- Prompts to like your Page
- Prompts to Check In on Facebook
- Posts from your Page
- Upcoming events
- Their friends’ Facebook recommendations or reviews regarding your business
The Bluetooth Beacon is the most reliable way to show Place Tips to users who have visited your business. These Place Tips can help users get more out of their visit; they can be told about a sale going on, for example, or can see recommendations other users have made for certain products you sell (such as hot ticket menu items for restaurants).
Bluetooth beacons are free to use and easy to set up, and can currently connect with iPhone users with their Bluetooth and Place Tips on, and who are in the immediate vicinity of the business.
As they usually do, Facebook takes user privacy and safety into heavy consideration; users will be able to see your Place Tips information, but you won’t be able to see anything from them, including whether or not anyone accessed it. It’s purely a one-way street of communication from beacon to user; there is no exchange of information. Users can still choose to switch off Place Tips if they choose.
Facebook is currently rolling out Bluetooth Beacons to small and medium sized businesses for free.
Should Your Business Get a Bluetooth Beacon?
If your business is purely ecommerce and interacts with customers only online or remotely, there’s no need for you to get a Bluetooth Beacon. For all brick and mortar stores, my vote is yes to getting one—especially since it’s free to use, and currently free to get!
The Bluetooth Beacons are currently being distributed for free to a limited number of businesses, so there is absolutely nothing to lose by acquiring one. If your customers don’t like the Place Tips, after all, you can show them instructions or tell them that there is an option to shut them off, but being able to show interested customers relevant information about your business will help you stand out and keep them interested and engaged.
How to Get & Use a Bluetooth Beacon for Your Business
Facebook is rolling out a limited number of their Bluetooth Beacons for free. To get more information or to sign up for one, you can sign up to request one here.
Once you get the device, it boasts easy setup, with Facebook claiming all you have to do is turn it on to get it to work (as I have a remote business, I haven’t gotten one and tried out this aspect, so I can’t vouch for this). As the name suggests, it uses Bluetooth technology to connect with users, and the beacons are designed not to disrupt your Wi-Fi network or any other equipment you’ll use in your business.
Keep in mind that you can’t currently specify what Place Tips a user sees, so Facebook recommends making sure that your Page and posts are up to date so users are given the most relevant and timely information possible, and that you’ve got all important and relevant information on your Page for Facebook to find. (think about those popular menu items example again).
While you can’t specify specific Place Tips, you can customize the welcome message that users will see. To do this, you’ll start at the settings on the top of your page. You can see about how to do this here.
Facebook’s Bluetooth Beacons are a good way to keep users alerted to, interested in, and engaged with what you’re doing in your brick and mortar store. They’ll automatically be shown relevant events or posts that you want them to see, and they’ll be prompted to take an action that will help you stay in touch or that will promote your business. Since the beacons are designed to protect the privacy of the users as well as share relevant information with those that visit you, it’s a win-win for both users and businesses—especially since annoyed users can turn Place Tips off if they wish.
What do you think of Facebook’s Bluetooth Beacon? Are you going to apply for one? If you have one already, make sure to share your experience with them in the comments below!