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What Does the New Facebook Local Mean for Your Business?
Last week the social media behemoth and No. 1 cat picture aggregator rolled out a new version of Facebook Places. Facebook is expecting it to work as some type of amazing Yelp/Trip Advisor combination. It’s ambitious, has a lot of promise, and is the logical next progression of the much-ballyhooed Graph Search. It could help Facebook carve out a part of the web that might earn them relevance for years to come.
But let’s be real—“will thing make Big Company more money?” is a boring conversation. What do you need to know about Facebook Local to keep your business on the cutting edge?
What’s the Deal with Facebook Places?
Facebook, for the better part of two years, has furiously tried to step up its search tool. And overall, it’s worked pretty ok–they’ve gone from objectively terrible to just garden-variety bad. And that’s a pretty big improvement! Having a good search engine is really hard. It’s why Google guards their algorithm behind a trade secret designation and a dang Cerberus. Having refined search results that satisfies users is remarkably rare. But that doesn’t mean Facebook can’t be better at it. The dirty open secret of Facebook is that they get users to willingly give them personal information. For free! Because we’re suckers. So with all that information, why can’t they get search right?
Well, the new Facebook Places is attempting to take all that data and display it in a way that users will respond to. Previously, Facebook Places was only a list of, well, places. This didn’t work and was actively ignored. Seriously, my job is literally Facebook and I only kind of knew that Facebook Places was a thing. Now, Facebook is doing a better job of:
- Using your location
- Offering you better, more refined catagories
- Incorporating all the data they have about you into their local search results
Seriously, check this out:
And here’s the cool thing about this: Facebook will display recent posts and reviews under the listing. Hilariously, our Charlotte co-worker Hannah Nelson showed up on this result. Also, shout-out to Growlers. But anyway, this goes to show how powerful of a tool this can be—when people see their friends recommending a business, they’re significantly more likely to trust it.
However, as of now, Facebook is sticking to the most user-friendly, wide-appealing topics:
- Public attractions
- Grocery stores
So, unless you fit in to one of those, you’re probably off the hook for dealing with this right now. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start optimizing for Facebook Places now. When this rolls out completely, you can see an immediate and significant bump in your Facebook campaign performance, since you’ll already be light years ahead of your competition.
How Do I Get My Business Optimized for Facebook Places?
Like anything that revolves around the words “local search”, you’re kind of aiming for a… well, not a moving target. That phrase implies the confirmation of a target. It’s more like firing into the dark. However, we know what generally works, and the most important thing you can do is to make your business look super reputable in the eyes of the searcher and the search algorithm. Like with Google Local search, the basics apply here, too:
- Have an accurate name, address, phone number
- Get great reviews to differentiate yourself
- Have all the relevant information that a customer may be looking for easily accessible
Since this is Facebook, things are a little bit deeper. You’re not fighting for spots in Google, where a user will go directly to your website; you’re working on an entirely different medium. So if you show up, but your Facebook is a ghost town and your pictures look terrible? That’s a death sentence right there for a conversion. With Facebook Places, you’re looking at an extra step in the sales funnel from search to conversion, and you have to be prepared for this, or else you’ll never get anybody off Facebook and onto your site, which is where you really want them if you’re in a service-based industry.
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