Facebook Teams With Publishers, Focuses On Food

Facebook’s core value lies in its users, their personal connections and the content and views they choose to share. Yet, in an effort to broaden its utility, the social giant is partnering with top publishers to offer the input of professional opinionators.

With an initial focus on eateries around the county, Facebook’s first partners include Bon Appetit, Conde Nast Traveler, Eater.com, New York and the San Francisco Chronicle.

Like regular user reviews, the reckonings of expert reviewers will now be collected on individual restaurant Pages. They will also viewable after users "check in" to a particular place, or view information about it via "place tips."

For now, Facebook says the effort remains in its test phase. “In order to give [users] access to even more helpful information about local places, we're testing a new unit that will display critic reviews for certain restaurants in the U.S.,” a company spokesman said on Tuesday.

Test or not, the premium content represents a real threat to business directories from Yellow Pages to a similar service offered by Google, not to mention countless other publishers.

This is just the latest effort by Facebook to soup-up it local directory business. Just last month, it unveiled a new caller-ID and business directory app named “Hello.” Built by Facebook’s Creative Labs and Messenger team, the app connects directly with the social network so users can see who’s calling, block unwanted calls, and search for people and places. With Hello, users can also search for people and businesses on Facebook and call them with a single tap.

Earlier this year, Facebook began testing “Place tips” -- service that pops place-based information right into users’ News Feed.

If users choose to view a particular place tip, they will gain access to posts and photos that friends have shared about that place, along with general information, including a place’s official Page, popular items sold at said place and upcoming events.

Late last year, Facebook quietly relaunched its Places Directory, which is essentially a local search engine. Users can use the directory find a “place” by location or another place name.

With obvious appeal for advertisers looking to track user location, a more mature local listings business could certainly boost Facebook’s bottom line.

Indeed, the promise of location-based social networking has never been brighter. By 2016, 90% of smartphones will be enabled with GPS technology, and as a result, the global, real-time, mobile location-based advertising and marketing market is expected to reach $9 billion by 2017.

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