Facebook recently launched its revamped “Nearby” feature for mobile Pages under a new name, Local Search. This service provides users with a Yelp-like rating and recommendation service for local businesses with features such as Like, Check In, Call, business information, reviews/comments, photos, and, most importantly, a five-star rating system.
With action items featured at the top for immediate access, the new layout is much cleaner, more user-friendly, and encourages interaction with friends and local businesses:
The two aspects of mobile Pages that will really appeal to users are the layout of the business information section and the photo stream feature (see photo below). Yelp offers the same, if not more, information about businesses, however, Facebook situates the details horizontally in a grid-like format so that users don’t have to scroll down page after page to view all the details of the establishment like they do on Yelp. These seemingly small variances make all the difference when it comes to user experience.
There are a few key features that Local Search is lacking, such as no “Add Photo” button (unless you navigate to the actual Timeline of the business) and no “Explore the Menu” option. However, what the new design lacks in its first release is more than made up by its integration with… well …the entire Facebook realm. Users are able to see which of their friends have “Liked”, “Checked In”, tagged a photo of, and/or commented on a business’ Page, creating a level of direct interaction and connection that Yelp may have a difficult time competing with.
Facebook boldly displays the average star rating directly under the action buttons (mentioned above), the map, and the business’ location and hours; providing a nice little snapshot for the user. Of course, the list of friends that “like this” or “have been here”, along with a rundown of the recommendations are placed conveniently below the star rating:
Overall, the new design and functionality of Local Search and mobile Pages seems on target to becoming the go-to local business directory service, despite Yelp’s prevalence and seniority in the market. The convenience of having a rating system incorporated into a user’s existing Facebook network is extremely convenient and inviting, to say the least. Now, Yelp seems more of a backup tool to consider after checking on Facebook to see what your friends recommend a business and have visited it.
And while lay users will be relying on new Local Search and mobile Pages to figure out where to meet for happy hour or grab a coffee when on their next business trip, business owners, social media managers and marketers will have to respond by sharpening their skills and managing yet another source of business referrals. Will this be a boon or a bother for the people whose job it is to get new customers in the door? Either way, Facebook is definitely moving toward being an even more unavoidable factor in the way service businesses think about marketing themselves.
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We want to hear from you, Facebook and Yelp users. Will you give Local Search a shot, or will it change the way you do your job? Share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.
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