I'm in the middle of writing a couple of books about social media, and I'm up on Facebook almost all the time. It's an incredibly feature-rich environment—so much so, that it's almost impossible to describe it all in a book, let alone a 700 word article. In this edition of Social Media Report, I'm going to focus on one specific feature of Facebook—Places. If you want a thorough understanding of Places, take a look at Facebook's description (facebook.com/places) or check out my new book (see my author's bio).
Extending the Reach of Facebook
Places is a way to extend the reach of Facebook when you are out and about in the real world. It allows you to see where your Facebook friends are (if they are near you) and share your own location in real time. Businesses are interfacing with Places to offer "Deals" when you "Check In." There are 4 types of deals: individual, friend, loyalty, and charity. Currently, deals are only offered in certain cities, but things change quickly with Facebook, and this integration might be available everywhere soon. Checking in with Facebook Places can only be done from a mobile interface or app. You can't check into a place from the browser interface of Facebook on the iPad.
If you are out and about with your iPad and want to use Facebook's Places, you'll need to use an app that has geolocation abilities. There are a number of apps built for different aspects of Facebook, but the two front-runners with geolocation-based Places check-in ability are the official Facebook app (free, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/260) and Friendly for Facebook (free, iPad: app2.me/3814; $0.99, Plus edition:app2.me/3460).
The Facebook app was designed for the iPhone but works in 2X viewing mode on the iPad. Many wonder why Facebook hasn't released a dedicated iPad version of the app. According to several blog reports, Facebook is looking at developing an HTML5 cross-platform browser so they aren't locked into a single platform (iOS, Android). That way it can deploy features across multiple devices quickly. I'm hoping to see a web-based mobile application that's functional on all tablets soon. In the meantime, let's explore the two front-runners.
Facebook iPhone app on the iPad
As mentioned, the Facebook app was designed for the iPhone but works on the iPad. Unfortunately, you can only see its home screen in portrait view. Tap on any of Facebook's options (News Feed, Profile, Friends, etc.) and you can view the option in portrait or landscape mode. However, when it's displayed in 2X mode, you have a scroll around a lot in landscape mode to see the screen. (This is the case for a lot of iPhone apps being viewed on the iPad.) It's easy to click the Check In button, find your current location, type in a little text, and tag any friends with you. If you have an iPad 2, you can click to add a photo, and it easily attaches it to your Check In. If you have the original iPad, you can click the button to add a photo stored on your device and then hit Check In.
Friendly for Facebook
This app was developed specifically for enjoying Facebook on an iPad. It has a three tab interface; Live Feed (with a drop-down), Events, and Places. Click the Places tab then click the Check In button, as shown in the screen shot. (You might need to give the app permission to locate you using touch.facebook.com.) At this point, you see a list of places geo-located near you. Click the name of the one you want to check into. You can check into a place even if you are not physically there, as long as you are close. As this technology evolves, the radius for your location will get smaller.
This app is very easy to use, and it has a nice clean interface on the iPad. If you check in a lot, I'd suggest using this one instead of the Facebook app built for the iPhone.
Posting to Facebook from other check-in platforms
If you enjoy the geolocation aspect of social platforms and want to share where you are with your Facebook friends, I suggest you also look into the Foursquare app (free, iPhone/iPod touch: app2.me/160). Like the Facebook app, this one was built for the iPhone. It functions well on the iPad but only works in portrait mode. With it, you can easily check into a place, add a photo, and post it to your Facebook account. The only thing you can't do with this app is tag any friends who are with you. The whole tagging function is what sets the Facebook and Friendly for Facebook apps apart from this and other geolocation check-in platforms.