Facebook may be the largest social network out there, by far, but it has not put that giant network to use in some obvious ways. For example, actually being able to tap into your connections to find out where they like to go. The best you can do is write a status saying, "Hey guys, I'm going to Paris, anyone know a good place to eat?" and hope that the right person sees it, and decides to respond. Other than that, you're out of luck.
As great as Facebook has been for connecting with people, it simply has not been very useful for discovery, but that's finally changing, as the company finally rolled out a recommedations feature on Wednesday.
That means that when a user writes a Facebook post looking for advice on places to go, or services to use, they will have the option to turn on Recommendations for that post. That means that, if someone does respond, the comment will include extra details, such as reviews and addresses. Facebook will also put all friend recommendations on a customized map so the user can find everything easily; if 10 people recommend a spa to use, that user can easily see which of those businesses are close enough to actually use.
Facebook also added a dedicated Recommendations bookmark, where users can go to ask a new question or help their friends with what they need.
"Whether traveling to a new place, looking for a hair salon, or searching for the perfect place to eat, people already turn to their friends, family, and local Groups on Facebook for advice. We’re rolling out a new tool that makes it easier to get and organize all those recommendations in one place," the company wrote in a blog post.
In addition to being useful for its individual users, who get the benefit of the network they've built up, this feature could also be a boon for small businesses, who rely on Facebook to lure in new customers. There were 50 million small business pages on Facebook as of late 2015, and that number has surely grown since then.
This was not the only new feature introduced today that is meant to help out those local businesses: the company is also allowing users to take action in-app once they have a recommendation.
So, lets say that a users asks for a good place to eat. Once their friends give them a recommendation, the user can now order food from that restaurant directly from the business' Facebook Page. They can also book appointments, at places like spas and salons or get a quote from a business.
This isn't the first time that Facebook has launched features to assist small businesses, specifically local services. Late last year it launched a new feature called Professional Services.
The feature takes advantage of the vast number of business pages that have been created on the network. When you first visit the landing page, it automatically shows each user specific categories based on their location.
Finally, Facebook also made some big steps in improving events on the site, making it easier to find things to go to, and to get tickets to those events.
The company did an overhaul on the Events bookmark, where users will see the latest activity from their friends. They will also get event recommendations based on what their friends like, and the events that they have previously attended.
Once a user finds something they want to go to, they can now get tickets to movies and other events directly from the event page, via new partnerships with Fandango, Ticketmaster and Eventbrite.
Facebook has been making event recommendations a priority recently, launching human-curated event recommendations over the summer. Those are city-specific recommendations for things happening around town. Featured events will be chosen by a team, who recommend things like local art, festivals, fitness, food and drink, learning, community, music and sporting events.
Earlier this month it unveiled a new stand alone Events app which is "designed for event seekers who are passionate about keeping up with nearby events and finding things to do with their friends."
Ultimately, all of these new features are a way to do two things: first, promote small businesses on Facebook, and, second, to get people to do more within Facebook, allowing them to take care of whatever they need without ever having to leave the app.
It's a strategy that Facebook has deployed with Messenger, integrating it with e-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as Spotify. The company is also said to be working on a new browser, so that users can even search from within Facebook. It's a smart way to increase engagement, and to drive up ad sales.
Facebook wants to be the go-to service for all the things its users want and need, so expect many more features like this to be coming very soon.
"This is the first step, and over the coming months we’ll be launching even more new features that will make it easier to get things done, make confident decisions and communicate directly with businesses on your time and terms," said Facebook.
(Image source: facebook.com)