Search Engine Land recently reported about a new Facebook Professional Services area:
Visitors to Professional Services are presented first with a page that has their current location preselected. Searches can be made within that area by typing into a dialog box that serves up business categories like plumbers, dentists, photographers, beauty salons, pharmacies, pizza places and so on.
This area should not be confused with Facebook Places.
Included in their business categories are:
According to Search Engine Land:
Search results are displayed in a way that takes Facebook’s five-star rating system into account, but results aren’t strictly ranked by how many stars a business averages.
Here’s example law practice search I performed while logged in from my desk in Chicago:
Here’s the same search while logged out:
As you can see, the results are different. As Search Engine Land hypothesizes, it appears that the results are based, at least in part, on Facebook connections. If true, this wouldn’t be terribly surprising.
Being local search types, we’ve long advocated Facebook business pages for law firms. After all, they’re highly visible in search results and usually display rich review snippets (i.e. those little stars in search results). They can also a very effective way to create, nurture and solidify professional relationships. For example, your firm’s Facebook Page might be a good place to get your firm’s staff involved in client development.
As we regularly discuss here, while the ways in which people find and hire lawyers is somewhat the same as it has always been, the means by which they engage in this process has undergone dramatic change.
People continue to search for lawyers by turning to people they know and trust. It should come as little surprise that many people are turning to Facebook to connect with these people. Seeing positive reviews and mutual connections with law firms, family and friends on Facebook provides powerful validation.
If Facebook Professional Services becomes a go-to source for business look-ups, it may become a much higher priority for small business owners. In my experience, searching for businesses on Google and Yelp tend to turn-up reviews from people with whom I am only loosely connected. On Facebook, at least on a few preliminary searches, the connections appear much stronger (i.e. family, close friends, colleagues, etc).
Linda Buquet has opened a discussion on Facebook Professional Services over at the Local Search Forum. I anticipate there will be some interesting insights over there.
Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences below. What impact do you think Facebook Professional Services is likely to have?