Facebook knows a lot about what its users like. Thanks to a recent upgrade of its mobile app, a feature called Nearby turns that information into meaningful search data that local businesses with a Facebook Page and physical location can turn to their advantage. Considering that more than 600 million people access Facebook via mobile devices, that is no small thing.
Before the upgrade, Nearby only showed friends that had checked in at a particular place. Now, it helps people discover businesses near them based on their friends’ recommendations.
How Nearby Works
Users open the app and click “Nearby” located in the menu. The app brings up a list of places, which are ranked based on a variety of factors: friends’ recommendations, ratings, check-ins, and Likes.
Nearby Screen Features
The screen is divided into two parts. The top portion contains a map showing the user’s location with thumbnails of businesses located in close proximity. Beneath it is a list of nearby businesses that contain the name, category, address, a list of friends who Like it, and ratings, which are based on a five-star scale.
Tap on a particular listing and more information appears, including a map of the location, business hours, a mobile version of the Page Timeline, and buttons to Like, check-in, call, recommend and share the business.
Nearby Business Categories
People can explore businesses by category, connect to businesses directly from their phone by Liking, checking in, calling, or getting directions. Users can also rate the places they visit and share recommendations with friends.
Categories listed in Nearby are as follows.
Benefits to Local Businesses
Businesses can benefit from Nearby in at least four ways.
- Discovery. Nearby makes it easier to find local businesses.
- Customer attitudes. Businesses owners can learn more about their customers’ attitudes and opinions based on the number of Likes, stars, and recommendations.
- Page Likes. Likes to a Facebook Page increase each time someone Likes the business using Nearby, which means more people can see the businesses’ posts in their news feed.
- Foot traffic Check-ins let businesses know when people visit the business location.
Steps to Optimize Your Page for Nearby
Here are steps to ensure your business benefits from Nearby.
Set up a Facebook Page. Set up a Page for your business if you don’t already have one. It’s possible that a Page already exists for your business, due to what Facebook refers to as Place pages , which arise from customer check-ins. If that is the case, a business has the option to claim and merge any such “rogue” Page with its main page.
Include profile and cover images. These appear on the Nearby listing.
Update your Page. Include information in the About section such as your address, store hours, phone number, and details about your business. Optimize the content using keywords to increase its relevance in search.
Update your category. Ensure your business is correctly listed. You can choose up to three sub-categories, which helps to refine how the listing appears in Nearby.
Encourage connections from customers. This occurs from Likes, check-ins, ratings, and recommendations. Doing so increases the chance your Page will rank highly and be discovered more easily.
Post to your Page regularly. This increases opportunity for customer interaction, which can lead to more Likes, ratings and recommendations.
With its unique combination of Likes, check-ins, ratings, and recommendations from friends, Facebook Nearby is a useful tool to increase visibility and increase the chances prospective customers will do business with you rather than your competitors.