It’s no secret that smartphones have changed when and how users share and interact online. Every user is now a power user with the ability to influence online conversations about your business in real time. This scares some business owners; for others, though, it’s an exciting opportunity to get customers to pitch in on your promotional efforts. To get customers creating content for you, you have to eliminate friction — and one step to that end is to turn your business into a Wi-Fi hotspot in partnership with Facebook.
If you’ve been marketing your business on Facebook for a few years now, you may have already heard of Facebook Wi-Fi. So, why are we highlighting it now? Well, Facebook has been quietly testing a feature to help users find nearby Wi-Fi hotspots since November — and now it’s live.
Facebook rolled out its Find Wi-Fi feature June 30 worldwide for both iOS and Android. It plots a user’s location and suggests businesses nearby that offer Wi-Fi. The user can visit the business’s Page or view directions to the location in their navigation app of choice from there. The bottom line: Facebook is increasing the visibility of businesses with complete profiles who offer free Wi-Fi … for free (for now, at least).
Why should you set up Facebook Wi-Fi for your business?
Offering free Wi-Fi to customers has become a common practice. It’s simply part of providing a better user experience. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves the idea of sitting in a waiting room for an hour without it. Customers appreciate not having to fight a weak signal and, for us folks without unlimited data plans, not having to stress over our monthly data allotment.
This ease of connection helps the businesses as well. In a world where everyone is a content creator, you’re increasing the likelihood of customers taking photos and shooting video at your location, which they, obviously, share on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Snapchat. (And we’ve all heard how important user-generated content, or UGC, is.)
In fact, many have suggested the Find Wi-Fi feature is simply an attempt by Facebook to boost usage of Facebook Live. If users depend on Facebook to find Wi-Fi, then why not use their in-app camera too?
Facebook Wi-Fi, specifically, adds to the already-compelling payoff for businesses:
- To connect with the Wi-Fi, users must check in on your Page. Check-ins are visible in the News Feed, meaning the user’s friends may see it. At a minimum, it increases awareness of your business. Better yet, descriptive check-ins, especially those with photos, offer a burst of social proof.
- In addition to checking in, users may (but aren’t required to) become a fan of your Page. This will allow you to market to them later on both organically and with paid ads.
- Paired with the Find Wi-Fi feature, it helps users find your business, increasing your brand awareness.
- It can also help you learn more about your audience through Facebook Insights and Local Insights Data, including their age, gender and home location.
Are Facebook check-ins worth the effort to set up Facebook Wi-Fi?
In short, yes, check-ins are worth the extra effort to install Facebook Wi-Fi, especially for bars and restaurants. Along with your fan count and your star rating, your check-in count is one of the most visible metrics available to prospects browsing your Facebook page. Will it outweigh boring content? No. But, will seeing their beer snob friend check in at your bar make them consider visiting you on their next night out? Quite possibly.
Just like how Facebook Wi-Fi encourages users to try out the in-app camera, it also encourages them to create UGC for you. The applications are endless:
- A band playing at your bar can stream their sound check on Facebook Live, encouraging locals to attend their show later that night.
- One of your gym members can record their weight-lifting session and post a time-lapse version, showcasing your state-of-the-art facility in the process.
- Attendees of your beer dinner can post photo after photo of each pairing, instead of perhaps just one collage from home at the end of the night.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Your customers are creative. You just need to give them the tools and a little nudge to use that creativity for your benefit.
Here’s how to set up Facebook Wi-Fi for your business.
To set up Facebook Wi-Fi for your business, there are three prerequisites:
- You must be an admin of the Page you want to connect.
- Your Page must have a valid address.
- You must have a compatible router (i.e., one that supports Facebook Wi-Fi).
Many popular manufacturers of routers support Facebook Wi-Fi, including Meraki, Cisco and NETGEAR. You can review the full list here. For directions on how to configure your specific device, review this guide.
Once you’ve configured your router, you’ll choose your desired Page, set user options — to allow them to bypass the check-in request or to limit their session length — and, if desired, post your own Terms of Service.
That’s (literally) it. Working with small business owners daily, we’ve learned how valuable and limited your time is. So, when we come across a tool that pays dividends long after the one-time setup, we can’t help but encourage you to invest those few extra clicks.
Share how Facebook Wi-Fi has added social value to your digital presence.
Have you set up Facebook Wi-Fi for your business? Share with us in the comments how it’s impacted your Facebook check-ins, fan count and engagement.