Facebook Places Pages Show Recommendations From Non-Friends, Prompt Users to Recommend

Facebook has expanded its “Recommendations” feature on Places Pages to now show endorsements from non-friends. Previously users only saw “Recommendations from friends” in the right sidebar. The site is also testing a new way to get users to write recommendations for Pages that are shown in a Page’s sidebar and published to the news feed. A small percentage of users are seeing a prompt to “Help your friends discover great places to visit by writing a recommendation for [currently viewed Page]” when they click the Like button for that Page.

The display of recommendations by non-friends, and the tested prompt if rolled out, could generate more news feed distribution and social endorsements for Pages, convincing more users to Like them.

Early this summer, Facebook added the “Recommend This Place” module to the right sidebar of Facebook Places Pages. Users visiting a Places Page then began seeing “Recommendations from friends” in the right sidebar if any of their friends had filled out the module. These recommendations were also posted to the author’s wall and the news feeds of their friends, giving local businesses and other Pages listing a street address an opportunity to attract new fans and convert visitors.

While recommendations from friends are probably more convincing than those from strangers, Facebook seems to have determined that both are worthwhile additions to Places Pages. If one of a user’s friends has left a recommendation, they’ll see that in the sidebar, but if none have, users will see endorsements from non-friends. Since a Page’s wall or tab apps don’t always give a clear depiction of a Page’s purpose or value, the explicit approval of other users might persuade a Page visitor to click the Like button.

Via the newly tested prompt to add a recommendation, this Like could start a chain of endorsement. The prompt is a significant increase in prominence for the recommendation feature, popping up in the center of the screen when a user clicks the Like button atop a Places Page. This is much more noticeable than the feature’s previous location in the sidebar, and will likely lead to a higher rate of completion of recommendations, benefiting Places Page owners in turn.

Facebook has made several moves as of late to assist local businesses. Its launched new free growth channels for their Pages such as the recommendations feature, pushed to get more business owners to claim their Places Pages, and added new ad targeting options to help them reach nearby potential customers. These efforts may be designed to entice local businesses to make Facebook a more central component of their marketing mix and buy more ads on the site.

[Thanks to David Hutnik for the tip]

Local business owners can find more strategies for gaining Likes and walk-throughs of Facebook’s latest Pages features in the Facebook Marketing Bible, Inside Network’s comprehensive guide to marketing and advertising on Facebook.