Facebook has rolled out a new directory for local businesses. The update allows users to search for local businesses by city or business name directly from Facebook.
For example, Facebook users can search “New York City hotels” in the main search box, and get corresponding results.
Or, users can simply enter “New York, NY” as the location, and browse through different categories of businesses, such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and public attractions.
Among other factors, the new directory uses Graph Search, and the Page Locations API to compile results.
When results are shown, users have the option to like the page, save it as a bookmark, view the business’s location on a map, or simply click on its Facebook page to learn more about it. Results also include the business’s contact information, places category, and rating.
Facebook adds a social aspect to its new directory in that users can view comments by others, see friends (and non-friends) who like the business, and those who have visited it. Users can also see photos of the business posted by others (similar to Yelp or other listing websites).
The timing of the new directory rollout is interesting given that Apple announced a new portal for adding local businesses to its Maps application just last month.
Although very similar in a number of ways, Facebook’s new directory platform does not yet have the functionality and sophistication of Yelp. It is certainly a stepping stone to gaining a share of the local directory market, and will be interesting to see how the social media giant develops it, especially for mobile users.