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Wikimotive Facebook NearbyFacebook just keeps expanding their influence. This week, they have added a powerful new feature to their mobile version for both iOS and droid, changing the “Nearby” feature and making marketing using Facebook even more important for local businesses.

In the past, Nearby simply showed you where your friends had checked-in. The update will keep that functionality, but will add another layer, one that mimics Foursquare’s main function: showing and rating nearby businesses. When you access the Nearby option from the left-hand toolbar, you’ll be brought to the new UI. From there, you can find businesses by category. They will be rated based off of stars, check-ins, likes and other recommendations. As you’d expect, ratings from your personal network are weighed most heavily, so what your friends like will be an important factor in what you see. If none of your friends have recommendations for a category, then you’ll just see the global communities rankings. One additional neat feature is that Facebook is trying to block artificial rankings, so you won’t be able to rate a place unless you have checked-in there in the past.

With this update, it’s more important than ever that your business has a well optimized Facebook page. In keeping with their design philosophy, Facebook is loath to send users anywhere but their own site, so only businesses that have active Facebook pages will be indexed by Nearby. So make sure your business page is well established, make sure your categories are set, and (as always) try and get visitors to like and rate your business.

Facebook isn’t pushing this feature too hard yet (or even making it available to all users) but it’s only a matter of time. Once they really start, how long will Yelp and Foursquare be able to compete?

Original Article on Facebook Local Marketing published on Wikimotive's blog under the title, "Facebook Nearby Suddenly Important For Local Search."

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