Facebook embraces utility with food ordering and ticketing

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Facebook wants you to participate in your community, not just talk about it, with a slew of new features launching today. From Facebook Pages, you’ll now be able to order food through Delivery.com and Slice, request an appointment through MyTime, get a professional services quote, or buy movie and event tickets through Ticketmaster and EventBrite without leaving Facebook.

This is the latest evolution of Facebook’s quest to make the Yellow Pages come alive. Native ticket buying could be especially powerful since 650 million people use Facebook’s Events feature each month but always have to go log in somewhere else to actually purchase their admission. Reducing this friction could make Facebook more popular with Event promoters looking for a high-conversion destination to their ads.

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If you want your friends’ suggestions about what to do either in your city or while traveling, you can use the new Recommendations feature. It automatically appears when Facebook’s artificial intelligence detects that you’re writing a status update requesting advice from friends. If you turn on Recommendations, a big request for suggestions will appear in the News Feed, and comments from friends will be added to a map and Recommendations bookmark for easy browsing. Now it will be a lot easier to solicit and manage answers to “Where should I go in Tokyo?” or “What’s the best burrito in San Francisco?”

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Lastly, Facebook is bringing the best of its new standalone Events app back to the Events tab in its main app. You’ll now by default see a feed of Event discovery content including RSVPs from friends, and ways to browse what’s up today, tomorrow, or this weekend. You can switch to a more traditional full calendar of what’s coming up for you. The idea is to reveal what parties, concerts, art exhibitions, meetups, and more could be happening right around you.

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All these experiences will start rolling out today in the US. If they perform well, Facebook may extend them to other geographies. Developers can apply for access to this Facebook Pages utility platform.

This is about stealing a little bit of the traffic currently flowing to Google, Yelp, Fandango, local news, and mobile food ordering apps. Facebook thinks a convenient browsing experience powered by friends’ suggestions can beat a mobile search experience that requires a bunch of typing and doesn’t understand who you are.

Of course, that will require a shift in behavior users may be stubborn to make. But it would provide Facebook with lucrative data on what you buy from where. If Facebook knows you frequently buy concert tickets for a certain venue or order a specific type of food, it can better target its ads towards you.

The more Facebook can become a place where you learn about and interact with businesses, the more it can accomplish its goal of connecting you with more than just people, and the more likely that businesses will pay to grow their visibility on the social network.