Hotels my friends like: Facebook’s Nearby Places

After last examining Facebook’s focus on reviews, I’m diving into a closely related topic. In many ways, it’s the other side of the same coin. Let’s talk about the “Nearby Places” discovery tool on Facebook’s mobile app.

Nearby is similar to Foursquare, Yelp and OpenTable in that it gives users the ability to casually browse or directly search for local businesses. Upon opening Nearby, you will be presented with a map populated by destinations that Facebook thinks you’ll find appealing. Relevance is determined by each user’s unique connections, which means if you have a lot of friends active around town, you are likely to see better results personalized to your network.

You can use it to discover restaurants, bars, stores and, yes, hotels. As with Google and traditional SEO, your hotel’s visibility on Nearby Places can be manipulated and improved.

First, your hotel Facebook page needs to have an address and category listed. These basic requirements must be met in order to appear in search results. After that, it’s all about engagement. As you strengthen your page’s connections and grow your network, it becomes easier for new users to discover your hotel. Once a user sees your pin on the map or name in the list, they can like, save, check in, view reviews, contact you or get directions with one click.

Just as with Facebook reviews, Nearby has two huge advantages over similar services: people are already in the app, and it has loads of data. According to Facebook’s Q2 earnings call, Facebook now hosts pages for 30 million businesses. More importantly, it revealed U.S. residents on Facebook spend roughly 40 minutes each day using the service. That accounts for one in every five minutes spent on mobile.

A smart discovery engine is only as effective as its user base is large, and Facebook has created the conditions necessary for success.