First it was a way to connect with college friends. It then integrated the rest of the world, added business pages, welcomed an instant messaging system and eventually started working with organizations for personalized chatbots. With all of these features, it seems like social media giant Facebook is slowly trying its best to become the central conduit for all social interactions.
Word broke that Facebook is trying out a new local search feature to help its nearly two billion users find what’s going on around them. By typing in things like “dinner nearby” or “bars nearby” into the main search bar, people can find both places to go in the area, along with ratings and a list of friends who have visited that location.
One of Facebook’s spokespeople confirmed this direction to TechCrunch: “We’re testing a new way to discover where to go and what to do around you.”
While there are no further public comments on the testing of this new local search feature, initial results have varied between users. On the web, the nearby places aren’t at the top of search results, while on mobile, those tend to show up near the top. There’s no clear indicator of how Facebook sorts the search results.
This may be the case of Facebook trying to conquer too many areas at one time. After it announced chatbot integration options for its Messenger app last year, we’re just now starting to see more companies utilize that feature. It may not be until the end of the year before we know what benefits the natural-language processing option may yield for businesses.
From what has been minimally shared at this time, it’s somewhat unclear whether or not this feature will be successful. As such, we will likely see Facebook continue to gather and integrate more user data to help enhance this local search offering still in its infancy stage.