A recent global update to Facebook’s Nearby mobile check-in made it possible for iOS and Android users to discover business information and reviews they may previously have asked a search engine.
Remember when Google+ pulled their existing local listings and paired them with Zagat reviews, in order to share social endorsements, maps and business info with people on the go, giving them an edge for local search? Facebook is now able to offer mobile users the same information within their far more widely adopted network.
The team from Gowalla, acquired by Facebook late in 2011, are responsible for the new Nearby functionality. Here are a few important details for marketers and tips to help you optimize your Page to appear in Nearby results.
As With Timeline, Simple Being There Isn’t Always Enough to Make Your Page Appear
Facebook’s ranks and displays Nearby listings much as they newsfeed content, so the closest nearby businesses won’t necessarily appear simply because of their proximity to the user.
People can see what’s close by, or search by business name or category.
Still, the results they see are based on friend activity, check-ins, reviews, personal preferences as determined by Facebook, and more.
What To Do: Optimize your local Facebook presence by encouraging check-ins, offering incentives for reviews, building engagement on your Page - especially with local influencers in your category - and adding the Like button to your website and other online presences to build your network.
Optimize Your Facebook Page for Discovery
Facebook users can search by business name and category. However, there are a few annoying caveats that have become apparent so far.
Say you're a local hardware store called Fawcett’s Building Center. Your have a Local Business Facebook Page under the category “Home Improvement.” Your Facebook Page will appear in searches for your business name and may appear in searches under “Home Improvement,” depending on the above factors.
However, you will not appear to a user searching for “hammers.” You would need to actually have that word in your business name to appear.
This is obviously going to be a helpful feature for users, if they can search for products or services without actually knowing the business name, so don’t be surprised to see this added in the coming months.
For now, however, there are a few ways you can optimize your Page for discovery by those who are nearby or are specifically looking for you.
What To Do: Check your category to make sure you're in the right one. If you’re a pub, for example, make sure you’re under Pub/Bar and not Restaurant/Cafe. If you want to be sneaky and try to appear in both, try putting yourself in one category with the name of another relevant category in your business name (i.e., Category > Pub/Bar, Business Name: George’s Pub & Restaurant).
Optimize Your Facebook Page for Conversion
In this case, a conversion is a person discovering your business in Facebook Nearby and actually walking in your door. Make it as easy as possible for them to do so by updating your Page so it as complete and correct as possible.
Finding a business listing lacking hours of operation or a phone number is annoying for users and may keep them thumbing through to the next result.
What To Do: Update your business hours, verify that your address in correct and try Facebook Nearby on a mobile to ensure the map and directions are correct.
Facebook Nearby has the potential to steal local search marketshare thanks to the sheer size of Facebook’s existing userbase. Mobile searchers may very well choose to make a local buying decision based on the endorsements and activity of Facebook friends, rather than random user reviews in search results or activity with lesser volume on Foursquare.
Have you given your Facebook Page the obligatory once-over since nearby became available? Take 10 minutes and make sure you’re positioned to appear in local searches. Then, actively campaign to build your presence and appear more often!