Facebook recommendations feature puts local business in the spotlight

Have you noticed the significant change in Facebook recently? If not, it surely won’t be long before you do.

In the past week in this region, Facebook has suddenly recognised the commercial significance of the ‘calls’ for recommendations that this blog has discussed many times now.

Instead of simply having these post appear as ordinary posts as it has in the past, Facebook recognises that it’s a callout and does three key things:

  1. It highlights that you are looking for recommendations by ‘signposting’ it as illustrated in the image above;
  2. It asks you where you want the provider to be;
  3. It recognises responses for recommended providers (if they have a Facebook page) and automatically creates a prominent link to the providers Facebook page, as well as creating a ‘drawing pin’ to indicate where that business is.

Get yer free advertising!

This means that the chances of missing a call for providers are now pretty slim. Any more attention and it would spin and change colours!

Of course like most new features, this new functionality isn’t just to improve the user experience.

Never one to miss a commercial opportunity—and why not, it’s a business aiming to create wealth for its shareholders—Facebook stands to gain from this development in several ways. Most noticeably, this is a means of keeping its users within Facebook instead of moving to the website of the recommended provider or more significantly, other locality based sites like Yelp.

What’s more, the move encourages businesses of all sizes to ensure they have a Facebook page to link to and acts as a carrot for them to become advertisers.

So what does the development mean for business?

Obviously it’s now critical to have a Facebook page or your business won’t be highlighted in the ways described, which represent valuable free advertising and a degree of prestige and credibility.

It also means that a business’ own call for recommendations is far more prominent and useful than ordinary text.

Most of all, it underscores the importance of a professional social media presence to ensure that when an opportunity to be recommended comes up, your business can maximise the opportunity by having all the bases covered with regards to presentation and the ability to respond promptly.

The image below illustrates the importance of this perfectly.

Just minutes after the callout was posted, venue Django’s had responded and confirmed that it would welcome the enquiry, with all its posts nicely highlighted and acting as prominent promotion for the business. Better still, a respondent added an additional recommendation.

More social media gold for small business

This is social media gold as the enquirer is ensured that the recommended venue is indeed interested in their business (even though its not precisely in the area requested), and has gone to the trouble to respond to the recommendation very promptly indeed. It’s a great indicator that it is a responsive and in-touch business—a critical factor in service industries.

Most importantly, this impression is not just made to the prospect, but to all who see the conversation—in this case the members of a business Group totalling more than 11,000.

What’s not for a business owner or marketer to love about this?  A hot lead, and free and prominent promotion to a group of future prospective customers.

This development underscores yet another important reason that your social media strategy and presence need to be current and well managed.

Are you prepared to take advantage of this promotional free hit? 

In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team, which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.


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