Facebook is testing out a challenge to old-timers Angie's List, Yelp and others with a new searchable service-referral directory called Facebook Services.
The social network now enables search of its own membership's commentary and personal pages to offer business referrals on a local and/or regional basis.
Facebook Services is only available on desktop at this time. In its mobile app, Facebook has a similar feature it calls Nearby Places, which helps users find locations only.
Categories such as event planning, pet services, medical and health, arts and marketing, automotive and business services were among the first to be listed on the new service, which was quietly launched only recently and first spotted by the India-based Web design and development site Acodez.
The idea is to help Facebook members to find and use local businesses based on the best Facebook reviews and ratings.
In Services, under each main category are sub-categories that get more specific for what a user may want. For example, under Event Planning is a listing for Bands and Musicians, a link that leads the user to names of bands that have been talked about in Facebook. Each band then can be reached through its Facebook page or other Website.
User reviews will be an important aspect of the service, although there aren't many on the site yet. Facebook uses its big data analytics capabilities to come up with scores for the performance of each of the local businesses, based on user reviews.
Facebook obviously is trying to expand its reach by connecting users with services in their own neighborhoods after connecting billions of people to each other.
If it decides to green-light this feature, the social network will also face competition from household-name mainstays such as Yelp and Angie's List. Startups such as Thumbtack and Red Beacon are also gaining followers with their referral sites.
At the moment, Facebook is not talking about the service.