Facebook announced a host of updates to pages on its flagship mobile applications with a focus on local businesses, noting that more than 1.6 billion people around the world are connected to at least one small business on the social network, and more than 80 million small businesses are using its free tools.
Facebook said in a Newsroom post that it added a local section to its flagship mobile apps, bringing many of the features of the stand-alone Facebook Local app it debuted last November to the forefront.
Recommendations are front and center following the redesign, with Facebook vice president of local Alex Himel saying that pages’ former reviews feature has been updated and essentially replaced by the revamped recommendations feature.
People will now be able to post recommendations—including text, photos and tags—directly onto the pages of local businesses, giving those businesses a way to reach people who are search for or discussing them.
Himel said the minimum character count of 25 will push people toward leaving higher-quality reviews, unlike the previous five-star ratings system, adding that reporting features are available for both people and page administrators to report recommendations that may not be appropriate.
Calls to action—which enable people to do thing on pages such as make reservations at restaurants, book salon appointments or order pizzas—were also given much more prominent real estate on mobile pages. The social network suggested in a blog post that admins ensure that they choose the appropriate page template and CTA buttons for their respective businesses.
Businesses can now share Stories on their pages, and those Stories are accessible to users by tapping on pages’ profile pictures.
Himel said of Stories on pages, “The core value we offer to businesses is reaching their audiences. We are very focused on the organic side.”
The recent emphasis Facebook has been placing on events was incorporated into the mobile design revamp, as well.
The social network said more than 700 million people use events each month, and Himel pointed out that events “get healthy distribution in News Feed. People engage with them a lot: RSVPs, likes, comments.”
On that note, Facebook is adding ticketing integrations enabling brands to sell tickets to their events directly via their pages, as well as event ads so that brands can promote those events.
Saying that local businesses create more than 60 percent of new jobs, the social network added that it will expand the job application tool it debuted in February 2017 to all people and businesses globally over the next few months.
Himel said in the Newsroom post, “These are more steps we’re taking to make connecting with local businesses easier on Facebook, because when businesses succeed, communities thrive.”