Facebook, with over 2 billion active users on their social networking platform, has achieved unparalleled success in terms of connecting people and “bringing the world closer together”.
Google on the other hand, now owning over 80% of the search market share, has long dominated the world of search: helping users answer questions like “Where to go? What to do? and How to get there?”. While both are dominant in their respective fields, neither has been able to gain much traction in the other’s territory - until the release of Facebook Local that is.
A Race Towards Social-Local-Search
When you look at the recent track record for some of the most notable feature releases among top social and search platforms, it seems that they are all racing towards the same end goal: Becoming the first all-in-one service to offer users a seamlessly integrated social and search experience.
Snapchat broke into the world of local search with Snap Maps and Context Cards (reviews), Google enhances social capabilities with Posts, live chat and real-time Q&A streams through its GMB platform, Instagram adds map search and location tagging, and now the unveiling of Facebook Local. Social seems to be opening its doors to the possibilities of local data and search capabilities, while Google, the king of search, has been slowly developing ways to engage both businesses and users on a more social level.
Why are Companies Bridging the Gap Between Search and Social?
With over $17 billion in Facebook ads and $19 billion in Google ad revenue , search platforms and social sites have seen major profits through the success in their given markets. However, it stands to reason that whichever provider can create the first online space that captures more of our time online by seamlessly integrating both social and search stands to gain so much more.
Facebook has given it more than one shot at building out a reputable local search platform to integrate with their wildly successful social networking site. Between Professional Services, Facebook Places, and now Facebook Local, it’s clear the social networking giant has its sights set on something more than just social networking.
Enhancing its local search capabilities would increase the amount of time users spend on the site, up from the 26 hours a month the average American already devotes to Facebook. With every click, like, comment, and every connection, Facebook continues to build up a rich profile on each of its users. Brands can then pay Facebook to target users based on their age, location relationship status and interest. This is how Facebook makes money - rich and detailed profiles of us that advertisers adore.
Similarly, it seems that Google may be once again attempting to bridge the gap between search and social. After its first attempt at entering the social space with Google+ was relatively unsuccessful, we saw a segregation between Google’s social and business products (G+ vs GMB). However, with new features like Posts, Q&A, attributes and live chat, it looks like Google is doing all it can to weave a more social-esque feeling into its GMB platform and keep users on site longer. With Google Maps projected to reach $1.5 billion from ad revenue in 2017, Google has a lot to gain by keeping user socially engaged on their local search platform.
As we continue to spend more of our time online, (currently 5 hours a day on mobile devices alone), the ability for social and search platforms to keep users on web properties that they own will become increasingly more profitable. Offering an online environment where users can do it all: hang out, post and consume content, discover new places, find local events, engage with friends and share experiences then becomes the idealistic online platform for increasing revenue.
What is FB Local/How does it Work?
Powered by its 70 million business pages, reviews and friends’ check-ins, Facebook Local is the first integration between search and social that enables users to discover new places and events nearby, while connecting them directly to their friends and social network.
Once known as the Events app, Facebook has redesigned, repurposed and rebranded this standalone app as Facebook Local. This latest rendition of their social local search platform helps users to discover more than just local events, but nearby bars, shopping, restaurants, and attractions as well.
This new app makes it a lot easier to do the kinds of searches and lookups that users would usually turn to Google for. Whether you’re looking to rally friends for an eventful night out or just need a place to eat, you can now turn to Facebook local as your own personal guide.
Facebook Local’s home page offers shortcuts to local restaurants, cafes, attractions, and more, along with where your friends and people you follow go. You’ll also find trending events, a weekly calendar and guides to help you explore the area’s food, arts, music, nightlife and more.
Additional features tabs include a map view of daily events and a personal calendar that displays events you’re attending which can be synced with your phone’s calendar.
Should the Facebook Local app gain traction among users, it could become a legitimate threat to Google, Yelp, Bing and other local search providers. Given its extensive range of local business data, knowledge of customer demographics, habits and interests, as well as their cultivation of user comments, photos and reviews it’s quite possible that Facebook is well on its way towards winning the race to become the first truly all-in-one local search and social platform.
As sites like Facebook, Google, Yelp and Snapchat continue to develop and expand their local search capabilities, it becomes increasingly more important for companies with physical locations to manage and control their local online presence. These advancements facilitate the consumers search and discovery process, making your online reputation more relevant and giving physical store more opportunity to get found.
Schedule a FREE demo with Chatmeter to learn how our local brand management platform can help you easily manage your online presence across the web and drive more online customers into your offline locations.