True Local Search Launches on Facebook

I have long maintained that Facebook would have difficulty converting SMB Page owners into advertisers until it was able to deliver a real local search experience. Until yesterday Facebook didn’t have one.

Users could search for individual businesses by name. And Facebook had a version of a city guide (Places Directory) that it didn’t heavily promote, which was kind of like guided browsing. But now it has a real local search site.

Facebook local search

I was made aware of this today but people apparently spotted it yesterday. The launch of this site is significant but in no way a “Yelp killer.” That’s because the user experience is OK but not great. And there’s no app-manifestation of this as far as I’m able to determine. However users can access this content on the mobile web.

Most of the action and lookups here will be via mobile devices; so I would expect Facebook to develop either a stand-alone app or to integrate this capability into Facebook’s main app ultimately. What’s interesting is that you can’t get these same results from the main Facebook search box. There’s a separate “what, where” box that shows up under the url: Facbook.com/services.

This is a big, inevitable step for Facebook and a critical one if the site is to covert more of its 45+ million SMB Page owners into advertisers.

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3 Responses to “True Local Search Launches on Facebook”

  1. Dave says at

    Greg:  I’m aware of many smbs that have advertised on FB.  Ultimately from an owner perspective FB is easier and more understandable than search.  An owner uses it like everyone else.  SMB owners are not really savvy to keywords and all the elements of search marketing/advertisers, but they get FB as does everyone else.

    But, after all is said and done FB is really for friends.  Its not for “buying intent” as is search.  We, and the smb’s we are associated with find more $$ value out of search advertising.   EXCEPT!!!

    The most powerful Word of Mouth suggestions come in FB.  When your FB friends and family reference a great service, restaurant, product on FB, it resonates.  I’ve seen people purchase on that basis.  Its most powerful when someone asks about a service, store, or product from their FB friends.  Those really generate a sale.

    The little secret has always been that when you write an FB review it doesn’t go on your timeline.  Boy would that resonate.  But FB doesn’t enable that…..probably because on its own, it doesn’t add to their revenue stream.

    Now this is interesting….IF…its marketing to make FB users aware of it…and its application spreads.   We’ll see.    Right now…at this point in time…I doubt the places and other specialty apps get much usage.  

    But FB has plenty of time and it has money to make these things work!!!   I guess we’ll see

  2. Boyd Butler says at

    I think Facebook would be mad to not use their review and like system to challenge Google. Google uses reviews as part of the search algorithm and Facebook will too. So that’s the same. Asking friends and family for a plumber, lawyer, car servicing, restaurant, builder etc is natural. The key is to make it natural for this to happen on Facebook. I am not sure replicating a search bar will do this. I think Facebook should think of a natural way to make this happen. Google tried this a little with their G+ rating function i.e. which friends you have like this business but it never took off. Same reason that Google+ has never really taken off for social…it’s just not Google.

    Facebook is social and so I agree with Dave that it needs to be integrated into the main newsfeed somehow so that friends see who is rating which local business and make the search function part of your normal Facebook page, rather than facebook.com/services, which no one will naturally go to.

    The other option for Facebook is of course to start using the reviews to suggest to business owners to advertise i..e “You’ve got lots of reviews – ADVERTISE!” or “YOU’RE TOP OF THE RANKINGS – ADVERTISE”

    I think that Facebook has to capitalise on their social reviews for businesses as part of their plan and this seems the start of something.

    If I were a business owner focussing on local, I’d make sure I had a page, with good postings and great 5 star reviews so I could capitalise when Facebook gets its act together on this.

  3. Greg Sterling says at

    Totally agree. I think the consumer experience and getting SMBs to successfully advertise are very much linked.

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