Facebook wants to be the mobile solution for local businesses. It also sees itself increasingly as a local commerce platform for consumers. The company’s recent introductions of Marketplace and its Events app are indications of a full court press into local.
Today Facebook is adding more tools for consumers and business owners:
- booking and ordering for Pages;
- social recommendations; and
- local event discovery.
The most significant of these new tools is online food ordering and the ability to buy tickets and book appointments on Pages through “call to action” buttons.
This new functionality is accomplished through an ecosystem of third-party partnerships, which Facebook will continue to grow.
Launch partnerships include Booker, BookingBug, Front Desk, HomeAdvisor, MyTime, Pingup, Schedulicity, Setster and Simplybook.me. Users will be able to buy event tickets through EventBrite and Ticketmaster, as well as movie tickets through Fandango. Facebook users will also be able to request a quote from businesses using Porch or TalkLocal.
In a few cases, users will be taken into a Messenger interaction with the business owner (which could bottify over time). Requesting an appointment from a hair salon is one such scenario in which confirmation would occur through Messenger.
In most cases, local businesses will need to be tied to one of these providers to enable the functionality on their Pages. I asked HomeAdvisor what they thought as a partner about the new capabilities. They told me informally that this was an opportunity they couldn’t pass up. Here’s the official quote they provided, attributed to CEO Chris Terrill:
Facebook Pages help businesses reach customers where they are already spending time, making it easier than ever for customers to find the information they need to get things done. Our Instant Booking marketplace — a marketplace that will drive one million transactions since last year’s launch — will leverage Facebook Pages to help homeowners instantly and conveniently book appointments with service providers offering 500 services from emergency repairs to kitchen remodels.
In addition to booking, Facebook has “revamped the Events bookmark” within Facebook to improve local events discovery. However, the newish Events app is a much better tool. The third aspect of this trio of announcements revolves around social discovery and recommendations.
Facebook said in its blog post:
When you write a Facebook post looking for advice on local places or services, you’ll have the option to turn on Recommendations for that post. If you turn on the feature, your friends can comment on your post with suggestions, and you’ll see all of them mapped out and saved in one place. You can also go to your Recommendations bookmark on Facebook to ask a new question or help your friends.
Users will be able to include recommended business Pages in their comments, which will then be plotted on a map (as shown above). This becomes another discovery tool for local business owners, albeit one they don’t control.
Right now, there’s no public way to access social recommendations (e.g., via search). Only people in your network can see or provide recommendations. But this helps pave the way for a more public tool to discover recommended local businesses on Facebook.
Taken together, these announcements make Facebook more useful and utilitarian for local discovery and commerce. It also makes Facebook much more of a “one-stop shop” marketing platform for local business owners.