You can search for businesses and services on Facebook—but will you?
Tucked away on Facebook for Web is the social network’s very own version of Yelp. It’s a business search feature that lets you find businesses from a handful of categories, like lifestyle and home improvement, and read reviews posted by Facebook users. Its quiet launch was first spotted by Search Engine Land.
The professional services search and ratings directory is pretty straightforward. It pulls data from Pages already on Facebook and provides a map and star-based ratings submitted by people who have visited the location. Similar to Yelp and Angie’s List, the tool is useful to get suggestions from friends or people in your network about where to go.
Unlike Yelp, however, Facebook doesn’t have categories for restaurants, which is what many people use Yelp for more than anything. The overall design and layout of the feature also leaves a lot to be desired.
“We’re in the early stages of testing a way for people to easily find more Pages for the services they’re interested in,” Facebook told the Daily Dot in a statement.
It may appear that Facebook wants to take on the business search apps that dominate smartphones, but it’s clearly not ready for prime time. If this is indeed the final product, it could just be yet another of Facebook’s experiments that fails to make a dent in an already saturated marketplace.
Facebook’s places database is not as robust or accurate as some other location-based services, which makes it not ideal for a ratings and review tool. For instance, in 2014, Facebook tried to test out Facebook places in place of Foursquare’s data on Instagram. That backfired when Instagram users became upset about missing places and a dearth of data. Instagram still uses Foursquare to provide location tagging.
Additionally, ratings and information available on Yelp and Facebook are much different. I looked at “nail salons in San Francisco,” on both sites and found Yelp to have hundreds of ratings and much more information on the different salons. Some of the salons on Facebook had no ratings or comments at all, making it hard to rely on.
This isn’t Facebook’s first attempt at taking on a popular online service provider. Earlier this year the company rolled out a selling feature for its For Sale Groups—a Craigslist-like move to let people add prices, locations, and additional information to things they’re trying to sell. The feature failed to gain any significant traction, and Craigslist remains a thriving service that doesn’t require a Facebook account.
Seeing friends’ ratings, recommendations, or check-ins could be helpful when searching for a business. But if you’re already in the habit of using other tools for the same purpose, or simply getting a referral from a friend in real life, Facebook’s services search feature is rather pointless, at least for now.
Photo via K?rlis Dambr?ns/Flickr (CC by 2.0) | Remix by Max Fleishman