Earlier this week, Facebook announced a partnership with Netgear that will give small businesses a new way to offer free Wi-Fi at their place of business.

Here’s a look at how the new program works:

When someone wants to access free Wi-Fi at your location, they will be asked to “check-in” at your business on Facebook first. After checking in on Facebook, they will have access to your network, but will also be directed to your Facebook Page.

There, people will have the option to Like your Facebook Page and see all of your recent activity and announcements.

Bottom Line: For businesses, Facebook Wi-Fi could provide a more convenient option for offering free Wi-Fi at your place of business.

It also presents an exciting opportunity for growing your Facebook Page. You’ll have more chances to stay in touch with customers who have already visited your store, interacted with your staff, and hopefully made a purchase.

You’ll also have more opportunities to be found by other Facebook users because each time someone checks-in, it will show up in their friends’ news feeds. This could help bring more fans to your page and more customers to your business over time.

Currently, Facebook Wi-Fi is only available to business’s using Meraki wireless products, Cisco ISR G2 and ASR 1000 Series routers, or a NETGEAR R6300 Smart WiFi router.

Find out how your business can get started.

Here are some of the other top stories that caught our eye this week:

New feature lets Google+ users email anyone on Google+ without an email address

Google rolled out a new feature on Google+ that will allow users to send and receive emails from other Google+ connections without their email address.

Rather than sending a chat message within Google+, users can now send an email that will land in the recipients Gmail inbox.

Gmail will then filter these messages using their new inbox categories. When emailing someone who you are connected to on Google+, your email will land in the “Primary” category. But, if you are sending an email to someone who is not currently a connection, your email will end up in the “Social” category.

If someone does send you an email from Google+, they will not be able to see your email address until you respond. Once a response takes place, the conversation will continue like any other email exchange.

To address any privacy concerns, Google is also adding a new setting within Gmail that will let users control who can and cannot email them through Google+.

Users can choose to receive emails from: Anyone on Google+, Extended Circles, Circles, or No One.

Bottom Line: Because the new feature is designed for personal emails through Google+, this Gmail change shouldn’t have any impact on your email marketing efforts. You’ll still be able to reach your contacts, and because you have taken steps to ask their permission before sending them emails, you’ll be in a good position to continue to grow your relationship with all of your Gmail subscribers.

If you are a Gmail user and have any concerns about receiving emails from people who you haven’t exchanged email addresses with, you should see the new privacy settings in your inbox as the new feature rolls out in the coming weeks.

Facebook set to retire Sponsored Stories in April

Facebook announced this week that they will be ending Sponsored Story advertisements beginning on April 9th.

A Sponsored Story is a message that appears in the news feed as a post from a friend about them engaging with a page, app, or event that you have paid to highlight.

The decision comes a few months after Facebook announced that they would begin integrating the social features offered with Sponsored Story advertisements into different ad products on the site.

Here’s how Facebook explained the decision in a recent comment on Mashable:

“As announced in June of last year, we’re bringing the best of sponsored stories – social context – to all ads. Since this update makes sponsored stories redundant, we will no longer offer them as a standalone ad unit for marketers. Social context will continue to appear with all ads where eligible. Our social advertising honors the audience that people choose, so nobody will see information in social context for an ad that they couldn’t already see.”

Bottom Line: In the past, many people have looked at Facebook as a free marketing platform. But now, more and more businesses are beginning to realize the benefits of paying to advertise on the site.

Advertising on Facebook lets you improve visibility and also lets you target your message to the right audience as well. This could mean more opportunities to grow your page and to do more business in 2014.

Have any questions about this week’s top stories? Let us know in the comments below.