Facebook has quietly released a professional services area with ratings and reviews of local businesses. While at first glance the functionality seems fairly limited, it is directly targeted at the already crowded directory/review site space filled by the likes of Yellow, Localist, Zomato, Google, Trip Advisor and so on.
The feature is currently only available on the desktop version of Facebook and has not yet been enabled on mobile apps.
When you access the landing page it automatically loads with a nice personalised view based on your location.
You can choose to use the search box function or scroll down and select from a list of business types and categories. Businesses are then listed with a brief intro, a star rating system, number of reviews and options to view additional reviews.
The listings and reviews are pulled through from Facebook Business pages and you can either check out the reviews or go through to the Facebook page for a business to view posts and additional contact details. When you hover over the listing of a business the “pin” on the maps listing pulses to identify its location.
Search results are displayed in a way that takes Facebook’s five-star rating system into account, but results aren’t strictly ranked by how many stars a business averages. Given Facebook’s deep knowledge of individual preferences, results are likely customised for users depending on their previous interactions with a business’s Page or whether someone they are connected with has reviewed a business on Facebook. For example, when I tested some of the searches I certainly noticed businesses I either liked, were involved with or had friends that were in those businesses seemed to appear higher in the results.
Why should you care?
While this area seems a little raw and functionality is minimal the personalised results certainly indicate that businesses with a social connection to users could outrank those without.
It is not clear how Facebook Professional Services will be integrated with Facebook Places, the social network’s local search directory that provides people a way to explore geographic locations through the eyes of Facebook friends and strangers. However, social search is increasing and so is the need to optimise social listings and business pages.
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