Editor’s Note: This blog post was written by Priscilla A. Gonzalez, a member of the marketing team at PILMMA member Greg Herrman’s firm, Herrman and Herrman, in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Even though Facebook itself has more than two billion members, and quite a few of its other products have attracted more than one billion users on its own, Facebook has previously had limited success when launching new standalone applications.
Facebook is hoping its new app, Facebook Local, will quickly gain favor with members who may harbor fond memories of its previous incarnation, Facebook Events, and also gain new followers who see uses for the slew of functionality built into this latest release.
Facebook Local is currently available for Android and iOS users in the U.S. and contains many new options to create a more robust and useful application. The previous version was a clunky iteration of what was already available on Facebook, making it somewhat redundant and far from a helpful download.
According to Facebook Local product manager Aditya Koolwal, the goal of the app is to make it simpler for friends to connect in the real world and also help people connect with local businesses, keeping tabs on events they don’t want to miss.
Currently, there are no plans to use the app for advertising, but this may change in the future. For now, though, the new app helps people find things to do, places to eat and where to go, as well as what you need, and it’s all based on recommendations from the people you know and trust on Facebook. If you have agreed to attend an event on the Facebook site, then Facebook Live will notify you on your mobile device.
Facebook Local Taking On Yelp & FourSquare
With combined calendar and event features, and an emphasis on helping people connect with businesses, Facebook apparently has designs for muscling in on Yelp’s market share. Including these features makes it clear that Facebook wants Local to be more than just an app for people to find and connect with friends for Friday night drinks.
The new expansions included in the app are part of a bid for Facebook to get more regional small businesses onto the site. To help the app gain more traction in the marketplace, Facebook has a team touring the country for 30 days to explain the platform to local business owners.
If Facebook can get behind Local in a big way, it could be a serious contender against other sites like Yelp and FourSquare, which boast similar functionality but without the benefit of the ocean of data Facebook collects from its members. Businesses who are already using Facebook to build their brand will not have to do anything different, as Facebook and Local share the same code.
This huge pool of information shared by both applications means that if somebody is searching for “lawyer” or “attorney” on the Facebook Local app, the data is also accessible to the main Facebook code as well. If you’ve been ignoring Facebook, thinking it’s not worth the effort, then Local may be the incentive you need to get cracking on building up your Facebook page and improving your social presence on the site.
There’s enormous potential for Facebook Local as it draws from Facebook’s range of local business data with social graphs and user-generated content.
A significant focus for the app is to help Facebook achieve more integration into the physical world and be more present in the offline activities of its members. This new app isn’t its first attempt at developing a presence with brick-and-mortar businesses, as they have previously used virtual appointment cards for stores like auto repair shops and hair salons.
The app is more in-depth than Events ever managed to be, with a home screen that is packed with information including the weather and popular local events. Travelers have the option of changing their area, so they can get access to whatever is happening around them no matter where they happen to be.
Users can keep also keep tabs on events and locations their friends are planning to attend. A search bar is included at the top of the app to refine a selection to a more specific location or business.
As users scroll through the search results, they will get an overview of each business and summaries of any reviews the business has received. A quick summation negates the need for a user to read through every review. The ability to “like” a business is also included in the app, so there is no need to open up the main Facebook application.
Having the information curated on a single screen makes it a lot easier for Facebook members to find the information that is most important to them.
Like Events, Facebook Local will still be able to track events you want to attend and suggest ones in which you may be interested, but the focus is on discovering places to visit, with the suggestions partially being pulled from recommendations your friends have made. It’s these types of features that create a similar scope to the functionality found on Yelp.
Local has moved above and beyond the scope intended for Events, and now provides much more utility than just being able to see what your mates are up to; it’s a compact guide to wherever you are.
If the app becomes a success, you can rest assured Facebook will be updating it with even more features, making it vital for businesses of all types to up their game on what is currently the pinnacle of social media sites.
Ensure your business can take advantage of the expanding feature list of Facebook Local by putting more energy into your Facebook presence and attracting more followers to your Facebook business page.
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