Facebook Relaunches Its Events App As ‘Facebook Local’ — Finally

Facebook has retooled and relaunched what was previously a stand-alone Events app and dubbed it “Facebook Local.” Finally; I’ve been waiting for this for about seven or eight years.

Out of the gate there are perfunctory comparisons being made by some to Foursquare and Yelp. It’s no “Yelp killer” at this point, and those that are saying so haven’t used it extensively. Facebook Local has considerable promise but also has weaknesses. For example, the search function is quite poor. (It could have a much more negative impact on Foursquare in the near term.)

Right now it’s basically a restaurants and entertainment app, which is absolutely fine. The combination of restaurants, bars and things to do will be very useful. However its scope is limited and for the near future at least you won’t be using it to find plumbers, electricians painters, HVAC repair or salons.

This one of the fundamental questions for Facebook: do we keep it a social guide for restaurants, events and entertainment or do we try to broaden it and add more categories? Facebook already has the content it needs to be a general purpose local search app, including millions of SMB profiles and reviews.

Facebook Local has a number of filters, including a “friends” filter to re-rank results by social recommendations. Generally I’m less interested in places my friends and acquaintances have eaten and like than I am in broad, consensus opinions of places. But that’s just me.

Where Facebook Local really shines is events and things to do. While there have been events sites and apps for years, nothing has really emerged as comprehensive or that useful. Facebook Local has a chance to own the local events space accordingly.

Currently there aren’t any ads (that I could see). However there will be — oh, there will be. And it creates very targeted inventory for both local businesses and brand advertisers that want to reach local consumers.

Now I have to ask, how aggressively will Facebook promote the app? The company has failed in with a number of stand-alone app attempts before. But this one may be different — and should be different.

As Facebook pushes harder into SMB marketing and advertising, an app like this could be instrumental in acquiring more advertisers (depending on the scope question above). There will be lots of downloads from press coverage and related word of mouth. But will the company go beyond that and truly market the app to the broader public?

It should and it needs to.

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