Back in December 2015, rumours started to surface of a new platform called Facebook Professional Services. It was pitched as a direct competitor to the likes of Yelp, providing consumers with the ability to quickly access local services from trusted providers in their area.
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The key was in the social proof – users can read reviews and feedback from people in the same situation.
Facebook Pages are an increasingly important part of the social giant’s strategy and, while Professional Services is not going to lay waste to its competitors overnight, it has rapidly become an important new way for local businesses to get noticed.
Earlier in the year we told you what Facebook Professional Services means for your small business, but how you can you make the most of it?
How does Facebook Professional Services work?
There are two ways for users to find businesses on Professional Services: they can type keywords into the search bar, or they can browse top categories in their area.
First, and most importantly, you need a Local Business Page in order to appear in Professional Services search results. To do this, make sure you’re logged into Facebook, and then click here.
Although Facebook hasn’t publicised how they determine where businesses rank, some commentators have made suggestions based on tests. Social Media Examiner thinks that search results are determined by factors including business location, keywords appearing in the business name and description, ratings, and how recently the last review was published.
Once a user has clicked on a business, they’ll see information like opening times, rating, a measure of cost, and reviews, along with an option to get in touch.
How can I get noticed?
So now that we understand how Facebook Professional Services works, how can you make sure that your small business is noticed on the platform? The answer: you need to optimise your listing.
Make sure your details are correct
It’s crucial that your business details are complete and correct on your page, especially the location, as this has a big impact on your ranking in search results. Make sure that you include your opening hours too.
Choose categories carefully
Category selection is another of the most important ways you can get noticed on Professional Services. Users can find you in two ways: by browsing categories, or by using search keywords. So, you should think carefully about how you categorise your business. Make sure that you make use not only of the umbrella category but, if relevant, the subcategories too.
Tweak your description
This is especially important for users searching by keyword. Just as you would optimise content on your website to rank well on Google, you should make sure that your description includes the keywords with which users might be searching for businesses like yours. For example, visitors might be searching not just for therapists in the area, but specifically for occupational therapists. Try to be as detailed as possible.
Think about contact options
Make sure that you give users as many ways to get in touch as possible. Some will prefer to stay on the platform, but others might rather pick up the phone or send an email. It’s one thing getting a user to click on your profile, but in order for them to make the next step you need to give them as many contact options as possible.
Use Facebook’s Check In feature
Finally, make sure that you tick the box on your contact details enabling check-ins for your page. This ensures that users can see how many people have visited your business, and is a factor in ranking on search results.
Why do I need Facebook Professional Services?
Small business owners might, by now, be suffering from ‘platform overload’. You’re on Yelp and a clutch of other sites like it, so why do you need Facebook Professional Services?
The answer is a simple one: Facebook has the numbers. Its user base eclipses any other comparable platform. It’s vital that your business is visible to potential customers, and Professional Services gives you the opportunity to get in front of the eyes of a huge number of users.
But it’s also important to understand the importance of a factor called ‘social proof’. Consumers are increasingly likely to make a decision based on their perception of other consumers’ verdicts. Facebook is a great platform for leveraging social proof. Over time, your Professional Services listing will show more and more interactions, more ratings, more reviews, and more check-ins. This becomes a crucial way of persuading new customers that your business is the best bet.
So, while Facebook Professional Services might not be a Yelp-killer just yet, it’s important that you’re on it, not just now, but crucially, as the platform grows.