Facebook Takes Stake in Local with its New "Professional Services"

Posted by Edgar Estrada on Dec 17, 2015 12:19:08 PM

Facebook Professional Services

A series of recent strides has shown marketers that local intel is not only a priority for customers, but a main area of opportunity for brands using Social. And if you haven’t already heard, Facebook is working to establish themselves as the go-to for local inquiries.  After seeing the vast user base and review data that Facebook has,we can assume that this Local takeover is another play by Facebook to establish itself as a contender for social users to find information local brands.

This Week on Facebook

This week, news arose that Facebook had soft rollout last month of a feature called  ‘Professional Services.’ This feature leverages customer reviews (among many signals) to help users discover popular local businesses. The news came unannounced from Facebook itself, but was was brought to light by a post from Sreedev Sharma, Social Media Manager at Acodez IT Solutions. At this point, the dashboard is desktop-only while Places still holds precedence for Local on Facebook’s mobile app.


Industry pros indicate that the stealthy moves Facebook is making indicate that something bigger is on its way. It’s possible that soon, this feature could direct users to brands that are receiving top-ranked reviews by people within their network on Facebook.

The Importance for Brands

We know that Google has been indexing Facebook reviews for quite some time to enhance organic listings, but that isn’t the end of the story. We uncovered more by running a search query using the following search operator:

“site:plus.google.com "verified local business" AND "facebook.com" AND "Reviews From Around the Web"

Google Reviews

Over time, we have seen that Google has been extrapolating review data from in order to enhance business listings. What does this mean? It’s simple: Google knows the wealth of local-social data on Facebook and so should you.

In addition to its 50+ million active business pages, Facebook has an extensive user base. This allows for a vast amounts of location data, importantly review data, that influence consumers to make rational and informed purchasing decisions. These customers value what their network has to say about their shopping experiences and rely heavily on their social circle to convert.

We were so intrigued by the amount of ‘active’ business pages on Facebook that we decided to run a comparison study to assess the total review count on leading directories in comparison to Facebook Facebook for two brands in diverse verticals: restaurant/food services and retail. No surprise, the amount of reviews being left on Facebook was substantial in comparison to other review directories in both of these instances.


Fig. 1: Review Trend of all locations for a Restaurant Chain
Facebook Professional Services, Review Management

**Disclaimer:

  1. ‘Other Review Sites’ refers to the average count of reviews on two of the most prominent review sites.   

  2. Facebook review count accounts for star-ratings without review text.

In the study above, we measured the daily review count across all 309 locations of a restaurant chain on Facebook and compared it to the daily review count averaged across two other prominent review sites. As the research clearly shows, for this restaurant chain, Facebook clearly surpasses the two other review sites on the quantity of reviews posted.



Fig 2. Review Trend of all locations for a Retail Chain
Facebook Professional Services, Review Management

**Disclaimer

  1. ‘Other Review Sites’ refers to the average count of reviews on two of the most prominent review sites.  

  2. Facebook review count accounts for star-ratings without review text.

In this particular study , we measured the daily review count across all 656 locations of a retail chain on Facebook and compared it to the daily review count averaged across two other prominent review sites. Similarly to the results for the restaurant chain, the retail chain’s Facebook review count also clearly surpassed the other review sites on the quantity of reviews posted.


Key Takeaways

Based on these results and the countless strides we’ve seen Facebook make towards Local this year alone, it appears that the network aims to be the  the platform of choice to leave reviews for local businesses. Why is Facebook garnering more reviews, when most consumers don’t see Facebook as a ‘review platform’?  Here are the main reasons why:

  1. Ease of use: Compared to other review sites, Facebook is clearly amongst the easiest to leave a review for. Most of your customers already have a Facebook account and being a member is often the easiest way to make an account for other networks like Pinterest . The same can’t be said about other review sites currently.

  2. Filtration system: Unlike other review sites that have sophisticated algorithms put in place to detect and filter out fake reviews aimed to game the system for ranking purposes, Facebook does not.

  3. User-base: With Facebook’s one billion active user base, it only makes sense that some users will leverage their ability to voice their opinion about their experience with local businesses. Facebook has taken this to another level by building a knowledge graph of user information, and since has used this as a basis to direct customers to search results that are relevant to their needs.   


Conclusion

By now, most marketing experts have realized Facebook’s growing presence in Local, however few have the tools needed to effectively monitor brand presence on this social giant.  The bottom line is that if your brand is not optimizing your local-social presence, you are missing a critical opportunity to better understand and engage customers.

With Brandify, brands have full control of all of their location’s business data. This allows them to quickly find where NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) data is inconsistent, monitor their review ratings and analyze customer sentiment per location, and better engage with local audiences by through Facebook posts (to one, a few, or all locations) as well as responding to reviews.

To get started on analyzing your local-social footprint for 2016, start your free Brand Scan.

Start Your Brand Scan

 

Topics: Facebook