Consumers today are increasingly using their mobile devices to search for and discover great local businesses. They’re using apps that provide useful information (complete with online reviews and recommendations) based on their location – apps like Yelp, Foursquare, and Google+ Local.
Now it looks like the world’s biggest social network, Facebook, is soon going to be added to the list.
This week, Facebook launched a new feature called “place tips” on its iPhone app. The tips may appear on a mobile Facebook user’s News Feed, showing real-time information about the place he or she is at, including: that place’s Facebook page posts, popular menu items, upcoming events, as well as posts and photos the user’s friends have shared about the given place.
“From friends’ recommendations to information about the places and things that interest you, Facebook helps you connect with the world around you,” wrote Mike LeBeau, Facebook Product Manager. “Place tips will show you fun, useful and relevant info about the place you’re at.”
Place tips is an opt-out feature, which means that users can turn it off at any time or hide tips about specific places. Facebook is able to determine users’ geographic location by using cellular networks, Wi-Fi, and GPS. According to the company, the place tips feature is going to be tested in popular attractions like Central Park, Times Square, JFK Airport, Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty. Select local businesses will also participate as the feature is rolled out, by using Bluetooth “beacons” that send wireless signals to user’s phones when they are nearby.
“Clearly, Facebook knows the value of aggregating information about restaurants, shops, and other merchants, and being able to show data about such places to users when they’re still in a position to buy something could potentially bring in substantial revenue,” wrote VentureBeat’s Daniel Terdiman in an analysis.
“It’s another stab at building recommendations into your social media experience, and a deeper dive into a market currently dominated by Yelp, and to a lesser extent, Foursquare,” said CNET’s Donna Tam. Facebook wants to make sure users keep coming back to its mobile app. Adding contextual, and personalized, location information is another way to hook users.”
(Image credit: Facebook)