Should Your Business Use Facebook Wi-Fi?

rsz_computerwithphone by Tim Parker on August 22, 2014
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Small-business owners know that a strong social media presence drives business, but building a following and keeping it growing require effort. Facebook Wi-Fi not only gives your customers an easy way to get online via your Wi-Fi network while they patronize your business, it also brings exposure to your Facebook fan page with very little work on your part.

“Facebook Wi-Fi gives customers a quick and simple way to access free Wi-Fi at the businesses they visit,” says Erick Tseng, product manager for Facebook Wi-Fi. “Instead of having to enter a code to access in-store Wi-Fi, customers will be able to check in on Facebook to get free Wi-Fi. In addition, Facebook Wi-Fi gives small businesses more opportunities to connect with their customers. After checking in, customers will land on the business’ Facebook page where they can get more information and interact with the business.”

How It Works

Say a customer walks into your business and wants to log on to your Wi-Fi network. After selecting your Wi-Fi network, they’re redirected to a screen similar to the “log in with Facebook” screens they’ve most likely used on other sites.

Next, they receive a prompt to “check in for free internet.” After checking in, they’re directed to your Facebook business page where they can view your latest content or browse the internet.

What Are the Benefits?

Have you been to a hotel, restaurant, or other business where finding Wi-Fi is essential but exceedingly difficult or costly? That’s not how you want your customers to remember their experience with your business.

Facebook’s Wi-Fi solution eases the connection process by providing a password-free interface they already know how to use.

And consider the PR benefit. When a user checks in on Facebook, some of that person’s friends see it on their newsfeed. According to a 2013 study, the average 18- to 24-year-old has 510 Facebook friends. Even 50 people checking in each day could represent a significant amount of reach that your business might not otherwise achieve. According to Facebook, more Wi-Fi check-ins could also improve your search engine ranking. In other words, your organic reach could improve.

The Downsides

Currently, only certain routers and wireless products work with Facebook Wi-Fi, including offerings from Meraki, Cisco, Netgear, and D-Link. Facebook-ready routers start as low as $89 and reach well into the thousands of dollars for enterprise-level equipment.

However, there’s no reason you have to ditch your current setup. If you have a private network in use by your employees, keep it — and use Facebook Wi-Fi as your public Wi-Fi portal.

Privacy Concerns

Since the service requires your customers to log in to Facebook to gain access to your Wi-Fi network, those without Facebook accounts are excluded. They would have to create a Facebook account to log in, which would likely seem cumbersome to some people.

Others may consider it a privacy concern and may not want to share their location on Facebook.

Finally, your Facebook business page becomes an important part of your business. You will want to update your page more frequently to gain the benefits that come from increased traffic. Before implementing the service, consider who will manage your Facebook presence.

Facebook Wi-Fi in Action

According to Jacob Jaber, CEO of Philz Coffee, the service offers a number of benefits. “Facebook Wi-Fi has helped facilitate our free Wi-Fi service while also adding social value online,” he says. “Our online engagement has increased significantly with more check-ins and our fan count on our fan pages has also increased.”

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Tim Parker is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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