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Facebook has an astounding amount of information on what its users like. In December 2012, Google had introduced a new update for the feature known as ‘Nearby’ in the Facebook App for iOS and Android that makes it easier to discover new places that your friends like. If used creatively, the information collected from this update can be put to advantage by local businesses. The fact that more than 600 million Facebook users are accessing Facebook on their smartphones, the data collected is going to be huge. Prior to the last update ‘Nearby’ only showed friends who ‘checked in’ at a location. Post update, ‘Nearby’ helps people find businesses based on the recommendations of their friends.

Basic understanding of Nearby

Once a Facebook user accesses his account on a smartphone, he needs to click on ‘Nearby’ from the menu. This feature then provides the user with a list of places with star reviews based on his friends’ recommendation, Likes, reviews, ratings as well as check-ins.

Leveraging Facebook 'Nearby' To Benefit Local Businesses In Mobile Search!

The ‘Nearby’ feature screen is split into two parts. At the top you will see self location with small thumbnails of businesses situated at short distances. Right below the map, you will see a list of businesses situated close by. Each listing contains the name of the business, its category, contact details, friends who like it and star ratings on a scale of one to five.

Leveraging Facebook 'Nearby' To Benefit Local Businesses In Mobile Search!

After opening a listing you will find detailed information about the listing with a map, the working hours, the option to Like, check-in, call directly, suggest a friend as well as share info of that listing on your timeline.

Leveraging Facebook 'Nearby' To Benefit Local Businesses In Mobile Search!

The businesses are categorized and can be searched under the following category heads:

  • Restaurant
  • Coffee
  • Nightlife
  • Outdoors
  • Arts
  • Hotel
  • Shopping

Leveraging Facebook 'Nearby' To Benefit Local Businesses In Mobile Search

How can the Local Businesses use ‘Nearby’ to their advantage

There are many ways through which local businesses will benefit from the Nearby feature, to start with here are four of the most relevant ones:

  1. Be found by customers: Nearby makes it very easy for a local business to be found in a search based on the proximity of a user.
  2. Customer behavior: Local businesses can get an insight about the attitude of the customers through Likes, reviews and recommendations.
  3. Increase in page Likes: The like a Facebook page of a local business automically increases whenever the customer Likes the business listing on Nearby. Whenever a user Likes a business page or listing, an automatic update is posted to all his friends, that so and so person likes so and so page.
  4. Check-Ins: It is a good way to know how many people visited that said location of a particular business enterprise.

How to make a Business Page ready for Nearby

  1. Create a Facebook Page: If you don’t already have one, make one. It is very much possible that a Page is already present for your local business because of a Facebook feature, which makes a page automatically once a customer Checks-in. If such is the scenario with your local business, then you have the option of claiming as well as merging that page with your official company page.
  2. Add a proper profile and images: The profile and images that a business has on a Facebook page automatically appears in the Nearby listing of that particular business.
  3. Regular maintenance of Facebook Page: Every business should ensure that their Facebook page has up to date information about the said business. If the content on the About section of the Facebook Page is search engine optimized then it has added advantage of appearing in the organic search results.
  4. Check the category in which the business is listed: Every business should make sure that they are listed in the correct category. Facebook allows a business to select three sub-categories as well, which allows the business to appear in proper Nearby listing when a user is searching for a business listing on Nearby.
  5. Enhance customer experience: If a customer is serviced well he may give a nice rating to the business of Facebook listing and also perform a Check-In. Better reviews and more Check-Ins helps a business rank higher in the category listings in Nearby.
  6. Post updates on Business page: Helps in better customer interaction, which in turn increases page Likes and recommendations.

The bottom line is that the ‘Nearby’ feature can prove to be a great tool for local businesses because of a unique blend of Likes, star rating, Check-Ins and recommendations from Facebook users.