The way it will work will be similar to other geo-locating social apps such as Foursquare where you can notify your friends of where you are via digitally 'checking in' to physical locations. The difference with Facebook is that you can also tag your friends who are with you, making Facebook Places a more social geo-app than Foursquare.
Places requires users to have Smart Phones, with only 5% of Australians accessing Social Networking site on their phones, I think we should proceed with caution in regards to the uptake of this functionality.
According to Nielsen Internet and Technology Report 2009, 43% of Australian Internet users owned an Internet capable (“3G/Smartphone”) / which can mean Nokia N95 or iPhone or Blackberry at Dec-2009. Hat tip Sam Granleese
Also as Nic Hodges points out, that number of people accessing Social Networks from phones is closer to 18% (using Nielsen latest stats as a guide). That sounds about right to me.
Businesses and Facebook
You can also integrate a Facebook Page to Places (click here for tutorial), allowing you to further spread company presence and also show how popular your company is in the real world rather than simply online.
One side effect is that it may take away from organic growth for Pages which has recently been going crazy for brands. The early word from the States is that the organic growth will look to decrease by half as they give more priority to Facebook Places in the Facebook Newsfeed.
Word from Facebook Australia
In terms of a launch date in this market, the word from my mate at Facebook Australia is that the US has not given them an exact date for roll out however they are working with a local Retailer to roll out an execution. My hunch is that it will be in the next month.
This post was collaboration between TCO’s Community Manager Michael Goldstein (Mickeyg77) and I. If anyone knows a launch date, please share.