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Facebook is now a local search tool for those on-the-go


On Monday, Facebook announced that they updated the “Nearby” feature in Android and iOS apps, making social powerhouse a potentially harmful threat to location-based social apps such as Foursquare and Yelp. “Nearby” on Facebook prior to this update was only a way to view where you friends had checked in. Now, you also can see what places are near a location, based on your friends’ recommendations. Whether or not “Nearby” takes off or not, online marketers need to be aware of the changes and potential it could reach. With 600 million monthly active mobile users, Facebook’s “Nearby” could become the go-to resource for “discovering new places,” trumping sites like Foursquare, Yelp and Google+ Local.

How it works is each location is ranked by recommendations by friends, check-ins and/or likes.  Once you click the “Nearby” option on the main menu, the GPS on your phone will input your location and then pull up a list of businesses and attractions near you.

From here, you can choose to find a place name or category. For example, if I wanted to see a list of coffee shops in the area, I would simply click the coffee icon. As you can see below, a list of coffee shops near me is in view along with recommendations, address, star rating and the names of my friends who have previously checked in at that location.

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Frankly, the decision for Facebook to further immerse itself into the local search sphere only seems logical. Even if a small business doesn’t have a website, they have a Facebook page. With the amount of business data Facebook has from pages, it is a strategic move and creates a better experience for its users.

Because Facebook is such a popular vehicle of communication and sharing, the personalized reviews and recommendations are of such a higher value than reviews and recommendations of strangers, such as those on Yelp. When it comes to suggestions, we trust the opinions of our friends and family, first and foremost. Without even having to call or text, a Facebook user can automatically see what their peers think of a business or attraction.

What Now?

If you have not put the time and energy into your Facebook page lately, now would be a great time to run through this checklist and give your page a little TLC.

  • Make sure that all of your basic information in the About section (address, store hours, phone number and other details) is updated
  • Check to see if your profile picture is appropriate for not only your Facebook page, but also for the icon that appears in Nearby search results
  • Encourage your Facebook fans to participate on your page by liking, checking into, rating and recommending your business

What’s your take on the latest from Facebook? Let me know in the comments below.

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