Facebook Places vs. Foursquare: Which Is Best for Your Business?In 2010, with the launch of Facebook’s’s local check-in service Facebook Places, many people predicted it would be the death of Foursquare.

Instead, in August 2011, Facebook Places was repositioned not just as a check-in service, but as a location-tagging tool.

Today, Foursquare and Facebook Places are two very different tools that can be used in very different ways to grow your business. So which is better, Facebook Places or Foursquare? We’ll show you the benefits of both platforms to help you make an informed decision on which is best for your business.

The Benefits of Facebook Places

The Benefits of Facebook Places

Facebook Places started out as a mobile app for people to check in to physical business locations. Using Facebook Places, Facebook members could access special deals (similar to Foursquare), share their location with friends on Facebook, and even tag their Facebook friends in Places. Today, the Facebook Places mobile app is dead and location-tagging has been integrated directly into Facebook.

For example, Facebook members can tag a specific location or business and include that location in a status update, image post, or video post. Members can also tag their Facebook friends in specific locations within their updates and posts. That location tag appears in the person’s News Feed (and their friends’ News Feeds who were tagged at that location). For businesses with Facebook Pages with specific locations included in the Page description, a post tagged with the business location will lead people who click on it directly to the business’ Facebook Page.

In the old days of Facebook Places, business owners had to create and claim a separate Facebook Place in addition to their Facebook Pages. Today, including your business’ physical location in your Facebook Page description will automatically include it in the Facebook Places directory and relevant search results.

So why is it important for businesses to appear in Facebook Places? First, it adds another way for you to get your business to appear in people’s News Feeds. Second, it enables you to publish special discounts or promotions that people can find on your Facebook Page after clicking on the location-tag for your business in a friend’s News Feed. In simplest terms, Facebook Places gives you more opportunities for wider exposure to the 800 million Facebook members.

The Benefits of Foursquare

The Benefits of Foursquare

Foursquare is a location-based deals tool. You create your business page on Foursquare, publish deals, and when people check-in to your business’ physical location or follow specific promotion-related instructions, they can receive special discounts and offers. In other words, Foursquare is a true geo-marketing, mobile tool that adds another way to reach consumers at the exact time when they’re making purchase decisions.

Foursquare can be used to boost new business and build brand loyalty. You can get creative with deals, and integrate them into your Facebook Page and other online and offline marketing initiatives. Marketing your local business using Foursquare doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive, but it is worth a try. Over 15 million people are using Foursquare to find real-time, local deals, and many businesses are finding great success with it for increasing per-customer spending and developing innovative rewards programs.

Facebook Places vs. Foursquare: The Bottomline

Facebook Places vs Foursquare: The Bottomline

Even though it may not always seem to be case, Facebook Places and Foursquare are two different things entirely. There is room for both applications in your marketing plan because they offer two different sets of benefits. Facebook Places gives you access to the huge Facebook audience through your Facebook Page (thus increasing brand awareness), while Foursquare uses location as the heart of its business model so you can drive sales and increase brand loyalty at your physical location.

Every business should have a presence on Facebook Places through a well-developed Facebook Page. On the other hand, Foursquare is most appropriate and effective for businesses that operate physical locations and want to boost real-time sales and repeat purchases.

Which check-in application do you prefer — Facebook Places or Foursquare? Share your thoughts below.

[Image credits: Scott Beale, Babyben, John Fischer, Rob Pegoraro]