Facebook just added a new feature to their app that will help you connect with your friends in a whole new way – in person. It’s a radical move. So much for what happens on the internet stays on the internet. Now I’ll have the option of actually speaking to a person whom I follow face-to-face.
The service is called Nearby Friends and you do have to opt-in to use it but when you do it looks like this:
You can also choose which friends see you and vice versa by choosing a subsection of your friends list or just individuals. Even still, Facebook may have to do some of their usual culling so users don’t get overwhelmed by all the pings. Imagine you’re a high school student and you’ve opted in to all your school friends. Yikes! This is every teacher’s nightmare. (Cell phones OFF in the classroom, please!)
If you’re trying to hook-up (or intentionally want to avoid), you can use the new feature to send your exact location and a time. That could actually be useful.
Now here’s where the marketing comes in. . . Nearby Friends shows your friends’ locations as they travel around the city. Facebook suggests you use this opportunity to recommend a local restaurant.
If you’re in the B@B business and you follow your clients on Facebook, you could use this option to go that extra mile. Say you’re a fashion designer. You see that a buyer is near a boutique that sells your clothes. Send them an app notification suggesting they stop by and see the display.
Nearby Friends could be an excellent way to communicate with nearby customers and clients if you have that kind of relationship. Just remember, you both have to opt in to the service in order to use it so you won’t be able to track that celebrity spokesperson you follow on Facebook unless they want you to.
The funniest thing about Nearby Friends, is that 80% of the people who use the feature to hook-up in person, will then sit across from each other in a restaurant while they each check their Facebook feeds from their own phones.
Nearby Friends is rolling out for both iPhone and Android phones in the US in the coming weeks.