Recently, Facebook cozied up to restaurants and food adventurers alike with the release of Nearby, a mobile local search feature much like Yelp and Foursquare. Not that the world needed another mobile search feature - but Nearby’s Facebook integration translates into some interesting perks.
How It Works
In times of hunger-fueled indecision, potential diners whip out their smartphones and search for local restaurants. Facebook Nearby doesn’t just provide information for people sitting at home - instead, it potentially pulls people off the street and into your restaurant. Results are filtered by category, so diners don’t have to sort through dozens of unrelated results to find exactly what they’re craving.
You’ll find Nearby in the left sidebar of your Facebook mobile app. From there, you can view a map of your current location highlighting local restaurants, hotels, and entertainment venues. You’ll also be able to see which of your Facebook friends have liked or checked into these places.
You can search for something specific or choose from eight popular categories. When you select a restaurant, you can get directions, hours, comments, ratings, and friends’ likes. With one tap, you can call, “like,” or check in at the establishment.
What makes it different from Yelp and Foursquare?
Yelp and Foursquare have tons of users - respectively, 10.4 million and 84 million monthly visitors - but Facebook has even more. It draws a whopping 1 billion active users per month - including 600 million mobile users. With this massive reach, Nearby could be a powerful tool for restaurants.
If you’re like me, 95% of your friends are on Facebook, but far fewer are on Foursquare - so Nearby’s use of Facebook-friend data makes it super easy to poll friends for the best place to grab dinner.
However, Nearby does have its downfalls. Some results are inconsistent, and it’s missing a few key things like special discounts and offers. Unlike Yelp, Nearby doesn’t display menus. To find those, customers have to go to the restaurants website (and hope it is mobile-friendly).
How can I get the most out of Nearby?
Make sure your Facebook page is up-to-date. Include basic information like your address, store hours, services, and phone number. Make sure your “About” page is informative and appealing. Update your category (e.g. Coffee or Mexican) so your restaurant appears in the correct searches. If you don’t have a page, your business won’t show up in search results.
You can also encourage your customers to like, check-in, recommend, and rate your restaurant. Consider offering deals or discounts for customers who check in to your restaurant on Nearby. By utilizing Facebook’s ever-growing network, Nearby might become another powerful tool for attracting traffic to your restaurant!