With the announcement of Facebook Home, Facebook has pushed the accelerator on its local mobile strategy, which was already in high gear, thanks to Facebook
Local Search and its big brother, Facebook Graph Search. By the end of 2013, I expect the social media giant to further strengthen its hold as the #2 local search app; so, it might behoove local marketers to get a handle on exactly how their businesses are showing up in Facebook these days.
There are numerous ways that local business data makes it into Facebook, including:
- “Link” buttons on local business sites
- “Share on Facebook” buttons from local review sites, local deal sites and other business directories
- Check-in apps
- Location data attached to images (e.g., from Instagram)
- Bing Local (Bing provides the default Web search on Facebook)
- Neustar Localeze (provider of the base US business listings data for Facebook Local Search & Facebook Place Pages)
- Business owners adding their own data
So, make sure you have a good handle on the status of your business data in those services because, as you’ll see, Facebook is a virtual maze of business data. Here are all of the places in that maze where your business might appear:
Reviews In Timeline
Yelp reviews can be shared on a user’s Facebook Timeline, which links back to the business’s Yelp profile. Thus, it is important to ensure that your data on Yelp (and other major review sites) is up-to-date and includes plenty of great photos to encourage sharing.
Check-Ins In Timeline
Foursquare Check-Ins can also be shared via Facebook, which similarly link back to a business’s Foursquare profile. I have noticed local businesses in Pleasanton providing incentives for customers to check-in via Foursquare or Yelp. But, how about incentivizing customers to share that check-in on Facebook?
Places Widget In Timeline
The Places widget on the Facebook Timeline, which appears embedded on a Bing/Nokia Map, shows a user’s most recent check-ins.
All users have a Facebook Map attached to their user profile which highlights all the places they’ve ever checked into or have been tagged. I don’t want to get all creepy on you, but you could check out your customers’ Facebook Maps to get a better idea of where they go and what they do, so you can better target them.
Status Updates From Location
Adding a location to a Facebook status update often prompts the user to select from a list of nearby businesses. Want your business to appear here? Ensure that it’s listed in Neustar Localeze’s database.
Facebook Ads/Sponsored Stories
I have two girls — take pity on me.
Facebook Local Search
The algorithm formerly known as “Facebook Nearby.” Again, make sure that, at a minimum, you’re in Neustar Localeze to appear in these results.
Facebook Places Results
When Facebook detects a query with local intent in its main search app, the user is shown Places results, which consist of a combination of the Neustar Localeze data and claimed Facebook Pages for relevant businesses. As you can see in the example below, claimed businesses have enhanced results that help them stand out among a sea of generic unclaimed listings. So, go claim your Facebook Page already!
Claimed Facebook Place Pages
Here’s what a claimed Facebook Place Page looks like. You can add various features to these pages, but the most important thing about claiming your business on Facebook is that you have control over what appears on them.
Unclaimed Facebook Place Pages
The big problem with unclaimed Facebook Place Pages is that they show a list of competitors near your business. It’s still hard to believe that there are businesses out there that haven’t claimed their Place Page yet.
Local Topic Pages
City+Category results linked from Place Pages. Please don’t make me go to Chuck E Cheese. Please.
Bing Local Web Results
When a user clicks on a local query in the “search the web” section of Facebook’s search results, they get a set of local results powered by Bing Business Portal. For best visibility, make sure that you have claimed and updated your business info on Bing.
Facebook Local Graph Search
Local results influenced by Friends’ likes, shares, locations, etc., are another place where your business might appear. To ensure that your business can do well in Graph Search, make sure you have a Facebook Place Page for each business location; regularly add content to these pages (e.g., menus, events, promotions, etc.) to keep them fresh, and add keywords that make them eligible for more queries. And, don’t forget to generate plenty of local “Likes,” as these will likely help improve your visibility in Graph Search.
Coming Soon! Facebook Home Local
You can imagine that, eventually, the businesses mentioned in Chat Heads will link to the Facebook Place Page, and Facebook has said it will be showing ads on the lock screens of Facebook Home. I don’t expect Facebook Home to change how you market your business on Facebook, but I imagine that, over time, we will see Facebook enable local marketers to continue to make its service a local social marketing machine.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.