Hardly a day goes by when Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) does not come up with something new. Yesterday we reported that the social networking company updated its Marketplace section with housing rentals. Today it relaunched its Events app as Facebook Local, moving it closer to users.
What is Facebook Local?
Facebook Local now includes listings for entertainment, restaurants and other businesses in the vicinity of a user. Apart from notifications for nearby happenings, users will now also get business recommendations from friends and searchable maps. Users will also get a list of their connections who are in that area.
“The new app, Facebook Local, helps you easily find what to do, where to go, where to eat, or what you need— all recommended by the people you know and trust,” Facebook Product Manager Aditya Koolwal said, according to Mashable.
With the latest move, Facebook will be able to get more regional small businesses onboard, notes Mashable. It will also help the company penetrate further into uses’ offline activities. This will help the company sell more targeted ads as it will know where its users are. Facebook is also holding a 30-city cross-country tour this week, and it could use the opportunity to make local businesses aware of the new feature’s benefits.
However, Facebook Local won’t support ads from businesses and events for now, but “we’ll think about advertising way further down the line,” Koolwal tells TechCrunch. Facebook Local is available in the U.S. starting today on Android and iOS.
Is the app needed?
Facebook launched its Events app last year. The app, which listed happenings around town, was not a hit. Just days after the launch, the app lost its place among the most-downloaded iOS apps, according to the data from market research firm App Annie. However, with Local, Facebook brings together events and permanent places into a single search engine that is powered by 70 million business Pages, reviews and friends’ check-ins, according to TechCrunch.
Facebook and Local share the same code, “so when it improves something like the ability to search for ‘cappucino,’ not just ‘cafes,’ that enhancement populates back to Facebook,” says TechCrunch. A question that arises now is whether there was a need for such an app as most of this information is already available in the Facebook app.
Answering this question in a way, Koolwal tells TechCrunch that the main aim of the app is to make it easier for users to quickly find information when making plans with friends. We all know how the Facebook app is overcrowded with features.
Facebook Local can also be seen as a potential threat to Yelp or Foursquare, considering the massive amount of local business data and user-generated reviews and photos that Facebook has. If the social networking giant succeeds at taking Facebook Local to such a level that it threatens Yelp or Foursquare, it may even become more attractive for businesses to invest more in their Facebook Pages.