Facebook has wasted no time evolving into a social media platform available to everyone, including businesses. As of today, it has transformed into a marketing tool with high levels of adaptability. To further push this aspect, Facebook has an entire system dedicated to helping local small businesses get their brand known across the site. By utilizing a real time way to interact with customers and providing a streamlined way to organize events, small businesses have found the most benefit from this social platform.
Facebook Services is a modern White Pages. Organizing businesses by categories and location, visitors can quickly scroll through a list of all local services based on their needs. These listings come complete with the business’ name, phone number, address, hours of operation and rating. Unlike other rating systems, though, the total number of earned stars is not prominently featured. Denoted with the blue used by Facebook, it is otherwise undistinguishable from the rest of the information. Also unlike review sites, brands are not sorted by highest aggregate ranking. Users can even hovering their mouse over a business, resulting in a corresponding pin on the provided aerial map to enlarge, allowing them to decide immediately if the rating is worth the trip. While Facebook may be demonized for their model for businesses on Facebook becoming “pay to play” in recent years, it has nevertheless continued to pioneer a streamlined collection of company information with Services.
Servicing the Small
In this realm of compartmentalized local data, smaller businesses are at an advantage over chain stores. The services listed are extremely specific in nature. Including nutritionist, kitchen supplies and event venue, Facebook Services is almost exclusively focused on businesses that do one thing and one thing only. This means bad news for megastores like Wal-Mart, and good news for the local natural food store.
As a small business, Services provides you a lot more attention from people that have already shown a desire to shop locally. They’ve put in the effort to sift through local Facebook businesses, meaning they’re looking for a small business to support with their patronage. If for no other reason, this alone should serve as enough evidence to get you to create a Facebook Services page if you haven’t already.
Unlike Google map searches where zooming out reveals locations across the globe, Facebook Services only shows those businesses that are local based on the city, not the zip code, searched. While detracting the zip code may seem odd, it’s actually an incredibly smart way for Facebook to avoid accidentally not showing a related nearby business just because it wasn’t five miles from the predetermined zip. This means that if you are on Facebook Services and if you garner a rating of four stars or more, you can quickly become the neighborhood expert in your industry, overtaking even the large chains. For this reason alone you should invest time into this free service.
The other half of this service is its ability to connect you with local competitors. Without even needing an account, you can sift through all of their reviews to see what others in the community are saying about them. Comments provide a wealth of knowledge that you can use to your advantage, especially if it’s knowledge that highlights both pros and cons. These pros and cons can then be applied to your own business model, helping you focus on areas that have proven to be effective in customer retention and aiding in the avoidance of mistakes that customers are quick to call attention to.
Beyond reviews, your small business can borrow great layout ideas from stores that aren’t even in your industry. A quick scroll through any option will provide you with an array of potential graphic options you can pursue with your own store. Be it a fancy version of your brand’s name or a simple logo, this one image that differentiates you visually from the competition is worth investing in.
Facebook Services has in all but name created the perfect online White Pages. Clean and concise, it connects your surrounding area to you so long as you put in the time to build a verified business page with Facebook. Once in, you will join the ranks of your competitors as you vie for local business that, in the long run, will allow you to expand beyond the area and become a potential globally dominant brand.