Facebook-throughout its successful journey thus far-has never been shy about making changes to its platform. From news feed algorithm changes to major video viewing updates, Facebook has changed a lot since its initial launch in 2004, and just as we approach 2016, it would appear that another important change is on its way, this time for business owners.
Facebook has quietly been testing its own professional services functionality to rival that of other companies like Yelp, Angie's List, Google, and Amazon. The new feature was first spotted by Sreedev Sharma, the social media manager at Acodez IT Solutions.
What Is Facebook Professional Services and How Does It Work?
While Facebook hasn't released any official information on it yet, here's what we know about their new professional services functionality, thanks to Sharma:
The service is going to provide users with lists of the best professional businesses and services near them based on popular reviews and ratings, the same way Yelp currently goes. It's currently only available on desktop. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/services/.
Here's my search for "automotive" in a nearby town to me:
After clicking "Search," you'll see that Facebook returned results to me, based on my location as well as the ratings and reviews tied to the businesses:
There are reportedly more than 80 different category options that users will have to choose from when looking for a business, including automotive, home improvement, financial services, medical and health, pet services, spa and beauty, and much more:
What Is This Going to Do for Businesses?
For starters, it'll serve as another directory for local businesses to be featured in. The most important thing is to make sure that your business' address is correctly listed on your company page, and that your service categories are correct. You're probably already receiving a lot of referral traffic from services like Yelp and Angie's List, and this new Facebook functionality is only going to increase that for you.
What Facebook is doing is helping businesses increase conversions and customer engagement, and don't be surprised to see them tie this into a paid advertising opportunity for businesses, similar to how Google lets businesses pay their way to the top in Google Maps.
While it's yet to be seen whether Facebook will tie the new Services feature into another recently-launched service, Places, you can bet the wheels at Facebook are already turning on that.
Also, be on the lookout for Facebook to release more, official information on this new service, and more importantly, for it to roll Services out on mobile, with even more functionality than what's available on desktop, as mobile usage continues to surpass desktop.