Facebook users can now surface recommendations to nearby places using the search bar in both web and mobile versions of the platform. Users can now make a search for say “bars nearby” and be rewarded with a list of relevant businesses that have a presence on Facebook. Also visible will be their individual ratings, a map with directions and finally, a list of buddies that have visited one or more of these places.

There is no word upon how long the feature has been available to the general public. Apparently, some users could have received access to the feature early on, while some other could be finding themselves able to search for local joints and businesses only now.  The feature is most visible on Facebook’s mobile interfaces where business suggestions are placed up top, right under the search bar. Facebook is also prompting its users to search for stuff using its auto-complete feature.

While only a few places show up initially in the main list, you can click on “Show all” to be taken to a full list. What I tried and failed to decipher meanwhile, was how the platform was segregating different businesses. How for instance, did it rank a particular place over the other. It doesn’t seem like the company is taking the more obvious factors, like number of reviews, rating, nearness, or even number of friends visited, into account at all.

Clicking upon a particular place takes you to a screen with further details about the business. For instance, you could be shown star rating and pricing data in addition to the name, address, phone number, and photos that are commonly displayed when ever you visit a business’s Facebook page. A call to action button, that goes “call now” or “shop now” could also be visible.

You can also chose to separate the search results on the basis of price, places currently open. Facebook is also giving you the option to delve deeper and search by “Good for groups”. Meanwhile, it doesn’t appear as if Facebook is leveraging all the data at its command to come up with the suggestions. While they are mostly relevant, there are a few anomalies here and then.

That said, the introduction of this feature clearly shows that Facebook now wants to get into the locations niche, that has traditionally been the domain of services like Foursquare. It certainly has a lot of data to bring to bear and with peer reviews and rating, Facebook could make a very compelling argument for itself in the niche.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.