Social media juggernaut Facebook has begun to test an exciting new service that will allow local, small businesses to offer free Wi-Fi to followers after ‘checking in’ with the social network.
During this test, Facebook will supply the wireless routers to be used for the endeavor, though the businesses themselves will provide the Internet access. When Facebook users check into a particular location on Facebook, they will get a redirect to Facebook’s main business page, allowing them to continue to browse the Internet for no additional charges.
The business page owners will have the ability to track how many new Likes received from those who benefit from using the service. If a visitor doesn’t wish to check in with a local business’ network, they will receive a pass code, which will allow them to check in at a later time.
Web Developer Tom Waddington was the person to discover this little test by Facebook when he stumbled across an entry titled Social Wi-Fi within the Likes sources portion of Facebook’s Insights API. The entry had additional text reporting, “people who liked your page after checking in through Facebook Wi-Fi.”
Facebook has since released the following statement:
We are currently running a small test with a few local businesses of a Wi-Fi router that is designed to offer a quick and easy way to access free Wi-Fi after checking in on Facebook. When you access Facebook Wi-Fi by checking in, you are directed to your local business’s Facebook Page.
Waddington’s correctly proven suspicions have similarities to a service by HotspotSystem, bearing a similar name. However, Facebook insists that their in-development feature has no connection to HotspotSystem.
Facebook’s in-development Social Wi-Fi feature is said to allow businesses that participate in the program, to track the number of customers that use the service, a feature that may open up newer advertising opportunities in the future.
At this stage, it’s currently not known whether Facebook will implement this particular feature on a site-wide level. The social media giant, as mentioned, is only testing with a small group of locally owned businesses to gauge the results against a live user base.
It would be an exciting move for both business page owners and users if Facebook did pull this off.