Facebook and NETGEAR have teamed up to offer Facebook Wi-Fi to small businesses. According to the WSJ  , “Facebook Wi-Fi  is an application that enables merchants to provide free Internet access to their customers when they ‘check in’ at a business’ Facebook Page.” NETGEAR is integrating Facebook Wi-Fi into their premium line of wireless routers to allow them to be Facebook Wi-Fi ready right out of the box. The big news is that this partnership has made the hardware more affordable for SMBs (a significant price cut from the limited hardware that was Facebook Wi-Fi compatible.
How Most Coffee Shops Currently Provide Wi-Fi
As a frequent independent coffee shop visitor, I am familiar with the in-store Wi-Fi game. The typical scenario is you must first purchase an item (a small coffee will do). Upon purchase you then receive the code to access the Wi-Fi. It’s a fair trade in my book. I give them $1.75 and I get a cup of coffee (hold the cream and sugar) and free use of their Wi-Fi. Everybody wins. But in an age where people spend a significant amount of time on Facebook, increasing your brand’s visibility within Facebook is becoming more and more important.
How Facebook Wi-Fi Changes Everything
I am definitely one of the guilty ones who never check into locations I frequent…including the independent coffee shops I truly enjoy. It’s just something I don’t do. But if one of my favorite coffee shops jumped on the Facebook Wi-Fi bandwagon, I’d probably end up checking in (plus I’d probably still order my $1.75 coffee). Why? Because it’s free and easy. Although I think it is very fair to have to purchase an item to gain access to their Wi-Fi, being able to walk in, sit down, check in and start browsing is even easier.
I Wish I Owned a Coffee Shop!
If I owned a coffee shop, I’d definitely get a NETGEAR router with Facebook Wi-Fi built in. Although I may lose a few bucks by not requiring customers to purchase something to use the Wi-Fi, Facebook check-ins are becoming much more valuable than a cup of coffee. And besides, how much advertising can you get for $1.75?