Check-in to increase sales. It's the new mantra for businesses leveraging on location-based platforms like Foursquare, Google Places, and Facebook Places. If you're a B2C company, maximizing your presence on the Web using Facebook Places should take off within a month considering that you already established a solid following on your Facebook fan page and Twitter account. These two are considered to pave the way for social media benchmarking aside from YouTube and Flickr.

While it's a must to have a fan page or a Twitter account, the next question would be how to lead your potential customers to your physical store. Remember that all transaction can be made on online but people will always ask for a location if you're a brick and mortar company. Today, location-based platforms benefit both the business and the customer. For customers, they are offered discounts, and for businesses, it's a great way to promote their product. The best way for a business owner to maximize Facebook Places is to come up with premium offerings to encourage check-ins while getting familiar with location marketing.

But before you get started with Facebook Places, let's get down with basics. Here are some tips before you dive in to location marketing.

Get a Facebook Page Up!

Before anything else, your business should have a Facebook fan page so you can get started with Facebook Places. This will give you an opportunity to establish a social presence and connect with your fans and potential customers. Furthermore, it will give people basic information of what you're company is, where it is, and what it offers.

Link your Facebook Page to a Facebook Place

Kickstart your location marketing with a Facebook fan page. The idea here is to connect your page to the Facebook Place Page itself. The Facebook iPhone app will allow you to check in on Places, but you can also use the Facebook touch mobile site on a browser that supports HTML5 and geolocation. Choose “Check In” then pick your location. After this, go to your Facebook Wall where your checkin is logged then click the link to the Facebook Place. Click “Is this your business?” at the bottom. To finalize this step, you should submit documents stating that your business is connected with the physical address of the Facebook Place you want to claim. You can verify this over the phone as well.

Eventually, your Page and Place will be linked by Facebook. Your Places Page will show a map where your business is located and a real-time stream of who's currently checked in. Suggest to friends to share your Place to their network.

Manage your Community

The very essence of creating a Facebook page is to manage your fans. Business owners should be meticulous on what their fans expect from their product and very keen to every comment, suggestion, and rant on the wall. Sentiment analysis is best done by paying attention to your  customers and engaging in conversations with them like what Dell’s IdeaStorm site is doing.

Small business owners have leveraged on aggressive outreach on Facebook which produced successful results. Keep in mind that social media platforms are free compared to conventional online advertising. Thus, making your business more visible to potential customers. Also, use social media to initiate ground activation, Electronic Arts UK did this last holiday season. EA gave fans a chance to win games by checking-in at events held in shopping malls in the UK during December. The Campaign proved that Facebook Places is an effective tool to achieve thousands of brand impressions appearing on Facebook news feeds.

Give Facebook Ads a Try

Facebook ads can be pesky but not for business owners. Facebook’s do-it-yourself advertising can enhance your Facebook Places campaign by targeted ads where social, psychological, and geographic requisites are deemed as crucial factors.

Tweaking your Facebook fan page isn’t enough. Once you’ve added Facebook Ads into the mix, your Places campaign will stretch its reach across the social web. To advertise your Places listing, go to the ad creation workflow and click “I want to advertise something I have on Facebook”. After that, pick your Place from the drop-down menu. Currently, you cant have ads target fans who check in at your Place. Good thing is, you can target potential customers who “Like” your Place page if your Facebook page and Facebook Places page are connected. Aside from these basic tips, remember that creative contests are keys to entice potential customers to increase your fan base on Facebook.