Facebook may have started as nothing more than a strict social network devoid of many of the bells and whistles that look right in place today, but each new project the company takes on has it butting heads with businesses in industries that don’t seem related to social networking at all.
All indications point to Facebook’s next battle taking place with Yelp, Angie’s List and other local business ratings sites, as the social network launched its new Services portal on Tuesday (Dec. 15). The release came without announcement or explanation from Facebook, so some pundits were caught off guard — though perhaps none more so than existing ratings sites that now have a massive competitor to worry about.
Search Engine Land was the first to notice the new site, which is desktop-only for the time being. However, it’s hard to imagine Facebook not extending the service to mobile as well — a move that will maximize the impact of the more than 50 million businesses already registered for Pages on the site. However, test searches have already revealed that Facebook isn’t limiting Services to U.S. businesses, as regions in Asia and Europe also returned detailed results.
While it will take some time for Facebook to determine just how users are interacting with its new Services portal, the social network’s association with non-dining industries could give it a leg-up on Yelp and others that have gained a reputation exclusively as restaurant- or bar-finding apps. TechCrunch reported that it seems as if any business that already has a Facebook page is automatically included in search results, which could give Services a solid base for its first users to work off of.
Should Yelp, Angie’s List and others be worried? Yes and no. If users have no trust in Facebook’s rankings, as they’ve built over time with other platforms, it might be tough to overcome that initial inertia. However, if Facebook can start some momentum for Services, the ability to link in recommendations from friends could be a secret weapon that no other ratings service can answer.