How Facebook Expanded Its Focus on Local Businesses in 2016
With 60 million-plus businesses now using Facebook pages, the social network has become a marketing and advertising powerhouse. However, it is not just national brand pages that are taking advantage of its immense clout. In the past year, Facebook has taken major steps to make itself the primary destination for location marketing. From initiatives like Marketplace to Events to Place Tips (not to mention the persistent rumours that they are building a Yelp-like directory), Facebook increased its focus on local substantially in 2016.
Here are some of the most important recent updates for business owners who want to take advantage of the power of local pages:
Call-to-Action Buttons Added to Local Pages
In October, Facebook began rolling out prominent call-to-action buttons on local business pages, making it easy for them to connect directly with customers on mobile via tailor-made CTA buttons that can lead to actual transactions without ever leaving Facebook. The buttons will allow customers to perform actions such as get tickets, book appointments, order food, make a donation, or get a quote through pre-arranged third party services.
Improved Local Awareness Ads:
Introduced in 2014, local awareness ads show people the stores nearest to them and offer relevant call-to-actions like “Get Directions,” making it easy for people to shop the store most convenient to them. In 2016, Facebook announced new ways for marketers to measure the impact of local awareness ads on in-store purchases, and unveiled new dynamic mobile ads aimed at driving people to particular stores or business locations.
Facebook Adds “Local” Insights:
Local business owners on Facebook can now access a section in their Insights called “Local,” which offers a wealth of information about the Facebook users within their business’ vicinity. Using data from people who have Location Services enabled on their phone, Local Insights show trends about people around the business’ address. Find out the busiest times in your neighbouhood, explore the age, gender and home location of people using Facebook in your zip code during the past month, and see whether your ads reached Facebook users near you.
Facebook Allows You to Poll Your Friends for Local Recommendations:
Facebook introduced a new feature in October that allows users to poll their friends for advice on restaurants to try, places to visit and businesses to trust. When you write a Facebook post looking for advice on local places or services, you can turn on Recommendations for that post. Your friends can then comment with suggestions, which will be displayed on a map with links to the businesses’ Facebook pages.
Facebook Reviews Now Appear in Google Search Results:
Another significant milestone for local businesses with Facebook pages occurred in October, when Google introduced a more substantial review component to a businesses’ Knowledge Panel called “Reviews from the web.” This new section exposes aggregated ratings of the business derived from third-party sites like Facebook, making it even more important to maintain local pages that are garnering reviews on Facebook.
Facebook’s Locations Introduces Content Cascading:
Facebook Locations (formerly known as Parent-Child) connects all of a brand’s local Facebook pages to one “national” or main page. Multi-unit businesses and franchises that are set up on Facebook’s Locations framework now have the option of cascading posts from their main brand page to their local business pages. Though the new functionality remains extremely limited and does not allow you to customize which posts you’d like to send to which local pages, it at least allows brands to keep their local pages updated with fresh content.
As Facebook continues to increase its focus on local, having a Facebook page for each brick and mortar store is becoming vitally important. The social network is increasingly mapping connections between consumers and the businesses that they interact with, which necessitates a connection between the digital world and physical one. It is now more important than ever to establish local pages for each of your stores with the correct address, hours and services, and keep them updated with fresh reviews and posts. Consider using social media software like Nuvi to manage and monitor multiple Facebook pages, and email firstname.lastname@example.org to learn how to manage ads across all your local Facebook pages.