Even though my job is directly linked to and involved with social media, I still like to consider myself a decently private person. I don’t post, share or tweet anything that I wouldn’t be comfortable with someone discovering years from now. And I never really opted for the chance to have every friend or connection know every detail about my personal life. So, when the craze to check in everywhere you went first began, I didn’t jump on board. Sure, I used Foursquare for a bit, and even didn’t mind seeing every place each of my Facebook friends frequented. But I never was truly intrigued…until now.
Last Monday, Facebook finally gave me a reason to check in, revealing the latest version of its iOS and Android App—which now allows users to find local businesses with the help of their Facebook friends with Nearby.
The Basics of Facebook Nearby
When you open Nearby in your Facebook App, you will see businesses closest to you that you and/or your friends have liked and checked in at in the past. You can simply click on one of the listings to get more-detailed information of the business, including recommendations others have written and contact information.
If you’re looking for a specific type of business, you can tap the search bar and a breakdown of various categories will appear, including restaurants, nightlife, arts, shopping, etc. You can also start to share what you think of the places you check-in to through a five-star rating system or writing a recommendation yourself. This way, Nearby will become more personalized over time as you and your friends rate, Like and recommend more and more places.
What this Means for Your Business
Now that we understand how Nearby will be used, let’s take a look at how it can benefit you from a business standpoint. First and foremost, set up a Facebook Page for your business. Facebook is relying on its own data and will only show Pages already in its database. This is especially important for smaller, local businesses because of the continuously growing mobile user base. (Facebook has are roughly 600 million monthly active mobile users.)
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If you already have a Page, make sure its basic information is up-to-date, and it is properly categorized so it can pop up when people search for a specific type of business. You (or whomever you have entrusted to run your Page) have the advantage of providing the information for your business yourself instead of trying to constantly monitor and change Google or Yelp listings—ensuring that your local search data is fresh and current.
Just the Beginning
Considering this version is just in its early phase, we can expect to see changes to Nearby in the future. Perhaps local ads will appear within the results, or a similar version will be adapted for the desktop. Facebook even noted this is just the beginning, stating in its Newsroom post, “This is an early release and there’s lots more to do. Results will get better the more people use Nearby, and we’ll continue to improve it based on feedback.” There is also the question of how prominent Nearby will become because currently it is buried in the sidebar navigation.
What benefits do you see from the features of Facebook Nearby?
Photo credit: Facebook