How to Use Facebook Location-Based Marketing [Nearby]

Facebook has taken Location-Based Marketing to a new level with the release of their upgrade to Nearby. 

In this 2nd Part of our series on Facebook Location-Based Marketing, I have outlined a few key things to help you understand:

  • what Nearby is and how to benefit from it
  • how you can use Nearby to encourage your in-house customers to promote your business to their friends!

All about Facebook Location Based Marketing - Facebook's Nearby App
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Facebook's Nearby Function allows users to do more than just Check-In. With the announcement recently of the launch of Facebook's Graph Search (more about that in an upcoming post in this series), the power of Nearby for businesses has been amplified.

This is a series of 3 Posts focusing on Location-Based Marketing on Facebook. The 1st post as about Check-ins, this 2nd Post is about Nearby and the next post will be about Facebook Offers.  All of these great tools use the power of your current clients, raving fans and customers and don't even require a website – just a Facebook Page! Though of course (if you know me) you know that I will always recommend that you have your website as your home base!

You can read the 1st Post in the series about Check-Ins here.

You can read the 3rd Post in the series about Facebook Offers here.

So, let's jump in:

What is Nearby?

Nearby is the update to Facebook's iOS and Android App allowing users to search for, find, check in to, rate and recommend businesses.  With the power of GPS functionality, this location based app helps users and their friends to find your business.

What do Nearby and Graph Search mean for you as a small business owners?

The more people that share your location, your service, provide recommendations or ratings about your business… with more of their friends = more exposure and more customers!

How does Nearby Work?

I recently wrote a Guest Post for Social Fresh about Nearby – it goes into a lot of detail about Nearby and how it works.  Well worth a read for a good overview.

Nearby does exactly what it says it does: it allows to you discover people, places and businesses “Nearby”. But it is a Location-Based search app with a difference. The results that appear on the Nearby map are influenced by the recommendations of your friends based on whether they have:

  • rated a particular place or business (using a simple star rating)
  • recommended the business
  • checked-in
  • liked the business page

Results are also based on the interaction of the larger Facebook community but the idea is that this is primarily “friend-driven” and then defaults to the activities of non-friends.

Now it is not just about what you like, but it is about what your friends like and where they are!  Hubspot have provided a great outline of how this works in their recent article about Nearby.

Let's see it in action:

To find places around you, all you need to do is switch on the app.  Let's use my local neighbourhood for an example (and one of my favourite local coffee shops).  I am on the street and wanting a coffee. I open up the Nearby App and check what is around.  I immediately spot Ground Raw Organic Food & Cafe. It stands out because the page has been linked and shows up with the image. Great, location selected!

Ground phone locating (Nearby)
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Nearby recognises that I have been at Ground before (yes, I have checked in previously!).  It gives me options to like, rate and check-in to Ground – every time somebody checks in, their friends see it, as we discussed on the previous post in this series.  The rating system is brilliantly simple…just a touch on the screen to give a star rating out of 5.  The more customers that check-in, rate and recommend, the more likely your business is to show up to their friends and general members of the public.

Options to check in and like- Ground
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and after checking-in, I am given the option to recommend the Cafe.  A simple question prompts me to provide a recommendation.  Nearby is intuitive – it guides the user to check-in, rate and recommend.  Brilliant!

What do you like about Ground
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And recommend…I did!

Recommendations Ground
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Users can search by category as well as by location and by sub-category, and find all types of results, from restaurants to favourite types of shopping!

How can Your Business benefit from Nearby?

With Nearby still “new” it is important that you start to take advantage of the potential if you have a location-based business.

  1. Make sure your Facebook business page is set up properly.
  2. Ensure that your Facebook Page is optimised. By this I mean that your About Section on your Facebook Page needs to include:
    1. physical address (check it is correct)
    2. Phone number
    3. Hours of operation/opening
    4. Company information
  3. Revise your Page Category – ensure it is the most appropriate for your business.  As in the above example, users can search by location or category or both.  So be ready to be found!
  4. Claim Your Location – this is a worthwhile check. There may have been customers try to check in previously when a page was not active, and Facebook generates a generic location in this case.  You can visit Facebook's guide to see how you can claim any business pages that exist in your name and merge them with your official Facebook Page. This doesn't always happen but it is worth checking that you have rounded up any extras.
  5. Do a Test Run.  Open up Nearby and see if it works for customers to find you and check in.  Check in to your own page.  What the?  Yes, I said, Check in to your own page. What better marketing than for you to set the example and check in to your own page.  Customers and friends will start to follow suit, especially when you use some of the recommended promotional ideas below.
  6. Be active on your Facebook Page.  When someone is using Nearby, they can choose to toggle between:
    1. About – where they can check in, like, call you, rate or recommend your business, see a map, see which of their friends have liked or visited your business.
    2. Timeline – a “Nearby” version of your Timeline (which allows you to toggle back to the About section). This means that users can see your  page posts, news, updates and can immediately engage with your Timeline by liking and commenting on posts.  If you are not active on your Timeline…not engaging with Facebook fans, then there won't be much for them to see. Give them some content to check out!
Ground Timeline
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Ground keep their customers updated – when someone locates you – make it count!

Now What?

Market to your valued customers and encourage them to check out Nearby, check-in, rate, recommend and like your page/business. Every time they do this, their friends will see the activity.   As I have mentioned before, it is rare that I will grab a coffee or bite to eat at a favourite restaurant or cafe, check in, and a friend does not comment on my check in.  Often when they do comment, they declare that they want to check it out too!

Here are some simple ways to encourage your customer to do this:

  • Ask them.  In service based industries, if you have a customer or loyal, raving, referring client, just ask them!  Say to them that you would love it if they would check in, rate or recommend your business and tell their friends.
  • Run a promotion.  I talked about Zarraffa's Coffee use of a check-in promotion here by offering a free coffee upsize when customers checked-in. What other promotions can be low-cost to  you, and encourage your customers to check in when they are on your premises? These types of promotions are also easy to promote “in house” – ie less need to worry about Facebook promotion rules and regulations if you are not promoting it on the Facebook page. Put up a poster at your store or mention it to people as they come through.
  • Run an instore photo sharing competition – for example, at Ground, they have a great “visitor book” where customers draw pictures and write poems, quotes and get really creative about what they love about Ground.  Maybe they could provide a small treat or a coffee upsize if the customer was to upload a photo of their “artwork” to their wall.  Their friends see not only the check-in, but also that they are at Ground and what they love about it.  Can you see the potential?

Do you have a physical bricks-and-mortar business? Is your Facebook Page Set up for Nearby?  How will you take advantage of Nearby?  Please share below and be sure to leave a link to your Facebook Page if you have a physical location you would like to show off! 

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Donna Moritz

Visual Social Media Strategist at Socially Sorted
Donna is a Visual Content Strategist and founder of Socially Sorted, listed by Forbes as a "Top 5 Social Media Blog You Need to Know About". Donna helps brands leverage the power of visual storytelling and content strategy in their business. Her content has been featured in publications such as Forbes, Inc. & Entrepreneur and she is a speaker and trainer on visual content for the marketing and tourism industries internationally.

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  1. Sadie-Michaela Harris

    I read the guest post you wrote for Social Fresh;- 5-ways-businesses-can-leverage-the-power-of-mobile-marketing and then popped over here for a read too it’s right up my GoMoSoLo street!

    • Donna Moritz

      Hey Sadie-Michaela. Thanks for the feedback – glad you liked the articles. Great to see that you are providing a mix of local, social and mobile services to your clients. I just pinned some of your infographics, so right back at ya!



  1. How to Use Facebook Location-based Marketing [Check-Ins] | Socially Sorted - [...] You can read about the 2nd Post in the Series (about Facebook Nearby) here.  [...]
  2. How to Use Facebook Location-Based Marketing [Offers] | Socially Sorted - [...] How to Use Facebook Location-Based Marketing [Nearby] [...]

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