For quite some time, the search industry has been wondering when Facebook is going to get serious about local search. With 2 billion monthly users, the world’s largest social media network could potentially become a powerful platform for people to do hyperlocal searches for things to do and buy, just as Google is.
But for years, searching for a business on Facebook has been a clumsy and unreliable experience. As a result, Google has become the primary place local searches take place. But we’re beginning to see some signs that Facebook is setting itself up as a platform for location-based marketing and search, and Facebook Marketplace is key to how Facebook is changing.
800 million strong
The typical Facebook user probably still thinks of Marketplace as a virtual garage sale. Facebook originally launched Marketplace in 2007 as a way for people to post classified ads as they do on Craigslist, but the feature failed to catch on as users instead relied on their own “buy and sell” Facebook Groups.
Facebook relaunched Marketplace in 2016 with a more dedicated effort to attract users. Significantly, Facebook assigned Marketplace a prominent spot in the navigation tab bar. This time around, Marketplace took off.
In May 2018, at the F8 Developer Conference, CEO Mark Zuckerberg reported 800 million people across 70 countries were using Marketplace each month compared to 86 million people who visit Craigslist monthly.
It did not take long for Facebook to capitalize on Marketplace’s potential for connecting people and retailers locally (in addition to connecting people with each other to sell merchandise). In recent months, Facebook has made several changes:
- Opened up Marketplace to automotive dealerships. Starting in October 2017, Facebook has been working with third-party publishers such as Edmunds to pull vehicle listings from their inventory and list them on Marketplace. In addition, Facebook has beefed up the Marketplace search filters to help users do more descriptive searches for vehicles and dealerships near them, thus making Marketplace a more useful search tool. By working through third-party publishers, Facebook also has a way of vetting dealerships with credible publishers …[Read the full article on Search Engine Land.]
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