More than 250 million Facebook users tag their posts with location data. Even more rate and review local businesses on Facebook. And now Facebook is merging the two to create a juggernaut of a mobile search app. Facebook Nearby, an addition to the iPhone and Android apps, shows you nearby businesses along with your friends' ratings and reviews. It could drastically change the way people search for multifamily housing, self-storage facilities, senior living communities and student housing.
How it Works
If you want to find a good local restaurant, what's the first thing you do? Probably ask a few friends for recommendations. Facebook's latest addition to their mobile phone app, Nearby, does just that. It brings up nearby businesses and displays results with ratings and reviews from your friends. But Nearby goes beyond simple ratings and reviews. It uses a complex algorithm to sort business listings based on your friends' likes and your own Facebook timeline. Nearby tries to figure out what you'll be interested in and puts it at the top of the list.
Of course you can also search for nearby businesses based on categories, including Coffee, Hotels, Outdoors and Nightlife. There’s also detailed sub-categories for Mexican restaurants, brunch, sports bars or Shopping retailers such as clothing, electronics, groceries or books. No doubt Facebook will be adding tons of categories later to make browsing more precise. A standard keyword search field is also included.
What it Looks Like
Nearby uses a split-screen setup for search results that displays a map and reviews from Facebook friends and users. Places Pages (business listings) get their own view with a main image, Like button, map, hours, contact info and location. If you want directions, a button links out to your phone's default maps app.
Why it Matters
Facebook Nearby is a game changer for local businesses, including multifamily housing, self-storage facilities, senior living communities and student housing. Why? Consider this: A recent Local Consumer Review survey found that 72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. And 52% said that positive online reviews make them more likely to use a local business.
There are more than 800 million Facebook users. If just a fraction of them start using Facebook Nearby, they could trample services like Yelp and Foursquare.
Facebook Nearby is in beta now, available to about 1 percent of users, but the new feature will automatically roll out to all Facebook users soon.
The best way to be prepared? Make sure your Facebook listings are up to date. Do they have accurate contact and location info? Do they have compelling images? It's also a good idea to ask some satisfied residents/tenants for positive reviews or likes. Remember, your property may show up in Facebook Nearby—along with any reviews and ratings. If Facebook Nearby users find your property and see good reviews, you could land a lease. If they see bad reviews... lease lost.
G5 is currently evaluating Facebook Nearby to see how we can best take advantage of the new service for our clients. Stay tuned to learn more about Facebook Nearby.