Facebook is testing a new suggestion module on its right sidebar: Pages Popular In Your Area.
The suggestion box, first brought to our attention Friday by online media strategist Samuel Edwards of Tenthwave Digital, has been appearing intermittently today for me. Results, as you would expect from an experiment, have been spotty, with pages for Eminem and Lil Wayne — by no means local for my Costa Mesa, California location — mixing it up with local restaurant and cupcake providers. And clicking through to the “See All” link – https://www.facebook.com/pages/?category=local — takes me to suggested Pages with no local ties.
This move is a likely signal that Facebook will be making a more explicit play for the huge — and largely unexploited — small business advertising market. Facebook announced last November that it had more than 25 million active small business pages on its network. Many of those SMBs are likely frustrated by decreasing organic reach for page posts; perhaps this test is a way to show them alternate ways to reach consumers on Facebook.
We reached out to Facebook’s media relations people and will update the post if they have anything to add.
Postscript: A Facebook spokesperson said that there’s nothing new about the feature; that it’s merely a version of “Pages You May Like” filtered by location.