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Facebook connections, Google Places: more Web-to-real-world links

Facebook and Google are each launching initiatives designed to connect more parts of your online world with that other one you don't have to type in a password to experience.


Facebook's contribution takes the form of two new features, "Community Pages" and a new "connections" option on personal profiles. As outlined in a blog post yesterday, the first addition seems to be a vague mix of discussion forum and about-this-person/place/thing/experience information; I can't expand on that, because I've yet to find any of these pages on the site. I also have yet to be invited to add connections to pages representing the people, places and interests I've mentioned on my profile.

If you've had a chance to try out either feature, please let me know what you think of it in the comments -- and how you decided whether you should broadcast more of your interests by opting into these suggested connections.

I have, however, seen a third, related Facebook change: Its shift from inviting people to "Become a Fan" of public pages to asking them to merely "Like" a page. This lower standard of commitment has yet to make a meaningful difference in my own public page's number of fans people-who-like-it; it has, however, ended my ability to see the names of all those folks.

(Insert standard Facebook disclaimers: Facebook's former chief privacy officer Chris Kelly, now on leave to run for political office, is a friend from college, and Washington Post Co. chairman and chief executive Donald E. Graham sits on Facebook's board of directors.)


Over at Google, today's news is the arrival of Places. Businesses can use this upgraded local-search option to market themselves to Web searchers -- and, by posting a sticker with a "QR code" in a window, to passerby with smartphones that can open these establishments' Places pages by scanning their bar codes with special applications.

As an example, Google PR suggested the Places page of Revolution Cycles. This chain of local bike shops has accessorized its page with such details as the brands it carries and the credit cards it accepts, plus photos.

But when I tried bringing up this information by scanning the QR Code in the window of Revolution's Clarendon store (pictured above), bar code-reader programs on an Android phone and an iPhone opened each device's Web browser to a blank Google local-search page. It's unclear how much of a dork I looked like while conducting this research.

If you're a shopper, do you think Google can add something to the local-search business that you're not getting from other sites? And if you're a business owner, how do you rank Places' utility next to all the other marketing outlets you now have to monitor: Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare and so on?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  April 20, 2010; 3:21 PM ET
Categories:  Mobile , Social media  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Tale of lost Apple iPhone prototype gets weirder
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