Facebook is testing a feature that would give its users the ability to search for professional service firms based on location and Facebook connections. Lawyers should take notice. Called “Facebook Professional Services,” many in the industry are speculating that Facebook wants to compete with Google and Yelp for local service industry search business. For now, Facebook Professional Services is only available on desktop.
If you’d like to play around with the feature, I’ve included a link here.
Search results are ranked based on connections through Facebook
This is the interesting piece for me. Facebook knows a lot about its users, and it will use this information to rank results within Professional Services.
Our agency does a lot of work with Facebook paid targeting. We create very specific campaigns based on a potential client’s interests and acquire new leads for law firms at attractive rates using that information. These campaigns are not based on organic likes, they are based on audience targeting, a world most lawyers aren’t yet aware of.
See also: Yes, Facebook can work for law firms
Of course, every business these days wants to be “liked” on Facebook, because a page like means someone has chosen to opt into your messaging, which is an important vote of confidence. But what if those likes also influenced what results people who search for a lawyer on Facebook would find? What if Facebook took the targeting intelligence it gives its paid advertisements and applied it to local searches? Facebook is headed in this direction with the Professional Services feature.
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. Given Facebook’s deep knowledge of individual preferences, results are likely customized for users depending on their previous interactions with a business’s Page or whether someone they are connected with has reviewed a business on Facebook (We saw slightly different results when we were logged into Facebook compared to when we searched while logged out).
Results in Facebook Professional Services vary based on whether a user is logged into their account. Search results aren’t driven entirely by star ratings. No one can say for sure how the results are ordered, but it’s reasonable to assume, as the Search Engine Land article does, that Facebook’s knowledge of an individual’s preferences will play a big role in ranking results. This means that connections with a law firm’s Facebook places page become that much more valuable. The way your staff interacts with your page, who has reviewed your page, who you are friends with on Facebook, all these connections can influence how a law firm will appear in the Facebook system.
Facebook Professional Services is Not Facebook Places
Facebook Places was designed primarily as a check in feature, more applicable to restaurants and music venues than law firms. Although law firms aren’t likely to get many check ins from fans, the Places platform still allows them to create local driven pages that can build an audience, and it will be your Facebook Places page that users of Facebook Professional Services will find when they complete the funnel.
Here’s what the process looks like:
This is the home page for Professional Services. Facebook knows your location and when “lawyer” is entered, offers a few options.
Next, I do a search for corporate lawyers in Bloomfield Hills, MI, my parents hometown where I am spending the holidays. As you can see below, the first result is a firm that has some reviews.
Let’s say I select that firm. Where do I end up? their Facebook Places page. So, as you can see the Professional Services feature is not Facebook Places, but it send users to a law firm’s Places page.
- Facebook has created a feature that allows users to search for professional services firms like law firms
- The feature is not the same as Facebook Places but incorporates Facebook Places as the landing page users are sent at the end of the search funnel
- Results vary based on whether a user is logged into their Facebook account
- A law firm’s connections on Facebook will become more important if the feature becomes popular since search results will vary based on activity within Facebook