Facebook has teamed up with Netgear to make it easy for SMBs to offer free Wi-Fi to customers in exchange for check-ins on their Facebook business pages. According to the announcement made at CES 2014, Facebook Wi-Fi will be available on four of the Netgear’s premium dual-band 802.11ac wireless routers.
Customers accessing the service are automatically taken to a business’s Facebook Page and are then asked to check-in with the option to “like” the Page before they begin using the Internet. In order to make it simple, there are no special codes needed, and the customer has the option to automatically check in for free Wi-Fi on return visits.
This seems like a win-win-win for the local space. For Facebook, generating more check-ins will improve their social data and subsequently, their local search platform. For SMBs, the partnership drives customer engagement through check-ins, allowing them to reach and build awareness among a larger audience. Finally, the always connected customers receive access to free Wi-Fi making for a positive in-store experience.
As followers and check-ins increase from Facebook Wi-Fi, SMBs will win some social media marketing longevity. In addition to reaching more customers with their future posts, announcements, coupons and other news, they are also getting access to more customer behavior and engagement data via Facebook Page Insights. Local businesses will be able to then use this data to develop comprehensive loyalty or promotional campaigns that target their most active and loyal customers.
During his keynote address at last year’s LSA Conference, Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook, discussed the value in SMB social marketing given that 70% of users are connected to a local business on Facebook. More recently Levy has said there are now 25 million Facebook Pages for SMBs, and 1 million of those businesses are active advertisers. As the numbers suggest, Facebook has become an affordable marketing solution for SMBs and the social media powerhouse continues to help SMBs connect with local consumers.