facebook_small.jpgADOTAS – Do you think Mark Zuckerberg and crew might pick up my variation on Timothy Leary’s LSD cheer as Facebook’s new slogan? As Facebook is assisting users in expanding their social connections through its network, Leary was trying to get people to expand their minds, one tab (or many) at a time.

In fact, the term “drop out” was not about getting stoned or intoxicated, Leary commented in his autobiography “Flashbacks”:

“‘Drop out’ suggested an elective, selective, graceful process of detachment from involuntary or unconscious commitments. ‘Drop Out’ meant self-reliance, a discovery of one’s singularity, a commitment to mobility, choice, and change.”

The mobility aspect arrived to the social network late yesterday with the must-speculated about location-based service Facebook Places, giving Facebook members the power of the check-in to share their locations via mobile device. To jump on the check-in train, iPhone users need only download the latest Facebook application while other smartphone users can visit touch.facebook.com on a mobile browser, as long as it supports HTML5 and geolocation.

Places allows checked-in users to see nearby friends and check other people in, which Gawker explains could be very bad with some amusing examples:

“You are at the bar when you are supposed to be at your girlfriend’s crappy art show. Your chat with your friend Jane, who checks into the bar and tags you: ‘At this awesome bar, just talked to [Your name here] about his Star Wars memorabilia collection!’ Your girlfriend sees this on Jane’s wall, walks over to the bar and dumps you on the spot.”

Further down, Gawker gives detailed instructions on opting out having your friends check you in — like assembling IKEA furniture, a manual helps when navigating Facebook privacy controls. Plenty more websites have popped up that help users check out of check-ins, but to be fair the Facebook blog announcing Places is surprisingly detailed as far as opting out is concerned.

Facebook staff had reportedly had been in a state of lockdown before this release. I wonder if the company is letting the employees go home and see their families instead of relegating them to the offices’ vacuum sealed hydropods.

Then again, does Facebook let employees have families or does everyone just get a turn playing mommy and daddy to Zuck? That could be another reason for the reported recent long-serving employee exodus.

But does this all sound a bit like what location-based mobile social networks such as Gowalla and Foursquare (TechCrunch noticed that the Facebook Places logo looks a lot like the number 4 in a square) already do? A little bit, said Ken Johns, senior vice president and digital strategist at Brunner
notes that location-based social networks currently boast only about 10 million users — Facebook’s 500 million users brings instant scale (or insta-scale).

BuddyMedia CEO Mike Lazerow also chimed in: “It’s clear that no one can do location-based social marketing at scale other than Facebook. I don’t think other services such as Foursquare will completely go away, but those smaller services just can’t do location at a global level like Facebook can, given their massive user base.”

But previews of Facebook Places revealed that the social Goliath would be partnering with moso networks, not directly competing with them. Dave Marsey, senior vice president of media for Digitas, noted that that Gowalla and Foursquare executives shared the stage during the Places announcement.

Facebook’s entry into the space is likely to affect the trajectory of moso networks, he said. “Places will put pressure on [location-based mobile social networks] to share more insights/data given Facebook’s 500 million user footprint and gives Facebook huge clout in setting the future strategy/direction for location based services.”

And oh what wonderful data will Facebook Places produce for marketers.

“To this point, geo-based marketing has largely been about web-based ads served on IP addresses or a data point that projects where a person is, has been or will be,” Johns said. “This new development may allow for more real, real-time and accurate data that gives marketers a higher degree of confidence in location-aware marketing.

Marsey was particularly excited about new data streams relating to time. “Think hyper-dayparting,” he said. “We’ll know a very narrow timeframe that’s best to push offers or premium content to an audience. ”

Local retailers are bound to see the most benefit from the new services.

“Local retail chains and independent venues will now be able to push hyper-local offers to their potential customers,” Marsey added. “The smallest, ‘mom-and-pop’ will have a low-cost, direct connection to their local customers.”

Indeed, in estimating Facebook ad revenue of $1.26 billion in 2010, eMarketer noted that the fastest growing revenue source for Facebook is its self-serve advertiser platform, which is primarily used by local marketers.

Frank O’Brien, founder of creative agency Conversation, was impressed that Facebook’s waited for the market to prove it was ready for this kind of tech before rolling it out, and the company’s appeal to members with children by marketing it as a “time capsule tool.” Such an approach gives the social network a much-needed human touch while subtly addressing privacy concerns,” he said.

But will users, who have been unsatisfied with recent Facebook’s privacy overhauls, be willing to bite? Marsey ventured that
“[a]s long as there is demonstrated consumer value through special offers or premium content/services and an engaging experience, consumers will latch on.”