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Today Facebook officially announced the rollout of a Cisco-driven Wi-Fi system called Connected Mobile Experience (CMX) for Facebook, which will allow businesses or venues to provide free Wi-Fi to their customers so long as they check in to the place on Facebook first. Several businesses have been testing the service quietly since January.
This potentially transforms the social check-in by providing a service of universal value to consumers. Check-ins are otherwise incentivized by promotions specific to the location or the perceived social currency
afforded by the check-in.
This looks to be a good move by Facebook, which has endured critique for its other attempts at product development (Facebook Home
, anyone?) and has been struggling to retain social media-wary users
. This will certainly affect Facebook activity tied to CMX-enabled events and locations, which may lead to more activity on the app in general. (If you check in to Facebook to access Wi-Fi, why not browse your newsfeed?) This also represents a decision by the Facebook brand to openly move toward a more of business/retail friendly niche as opposed to attempting to be an omnipresent social companion. That’s what Instagram is for, and they own it, after all.
The benefits to businesses include more access to (reportedly anonymous) data about the people that check in, and therefore the ability to deliver more targeted advertising. This will also likely provide incentive to businesses to evaluate their content strategy to account for an influx of people accessing the Facebook page from within their walls.
From today's announcement, via AdAge
: "Consumers connect to the network of a participating business, open their browser on any mobile device or laptop and a Facebook check-in page appears. After checking in, consumers are directed to the business' Facebook Page, where they can receive the latest information about the venue. Facebook provides aggregated anonymous insights about people's activity on their Page, including demographics such as age, gender and city. Businesses can analyze this data to better understand their customer's preferences and deliver targeted promotions—ultimately improving their advertising and marketing campaigns…Any business is welcome to use Facebook WiFi. You just need a router that supports Facebook WiFi, and a valid local business Page on Facebook."
Finally, it will be interesting to see how Facebook-enabled Wi-Fi might be used to create interactive experiences beyond the local business or event angle. For example, Coke rolled out a pop up park in Amsterdam
, an extension of its much lauded 2.0 vending machines. Add CMX for Facebook WiFi and a custom Facebook page and you have achieved what we marketers like to call a socially optimized interactive experience.