ILM West: ‘Facebook Next: Leveraging the Platform for Local’

Neg Norton and I are in San Francisco this week for BIA/Kelsey’s ILM West 2011 conference,Closing the Local Loop.” The three-day event features an impressive agenda of speakers and panels focused on exploring the new wave of commerce-centric local solutions – everything from location-based services and geotargeting to deals, online coupons and customer engagement and retention solutions.

One of my favorite sessions from Monday’s jam-packed agenda was “Facebook Next: Leveraging the Platform for Local,” which explored Facebook’s emergence as a leader in social local media as well as targeted advertising and marketplaces. The 45-minute panel discussed the strategies that local businesses, agencies and publishers should pursue to succeed in driving customers in the world’s largest social network.

Facebook experts Craig Donato, CEO, Oodle; Sivan Metzger, GM, Kenshoo Local and Social, Kenshoo; and Niel Robertson, CEO, Trada led a spirited conversation. My key takeaways came from Craig, who argued that:

1) Facebook is more like TV than search.  The focus is on social discovery with the browse model.

2) Local businesses must have a footprint on Facebook to be successful. Businesses should keep existing and potential customers on Facebook – not send them to other sites.

3) Friends are necessary but not good enough for commerce. We need to attract neighbors and coworkers, too.

The group also talked about the importance of using Facebook as the top of the funnel to push through higher customer conversion rates.

Neg and I will be sharing some of our other takeaways as the conference moves on. Be sure to check back here on Local Search Insider, or visit BIA/Kelsey’s Local Media Watch blog for real-time updates.

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