Facebook’s ‘Call Now’ Feature Connects Local Businesses To Mobile Users

Starting today, local establishments can tie in the call-to-action feature, bringing convenience to Facebook users on-the-go.

Facebook’s addition of a “call-to-action” feature to its News Feed ads is yet another step in the social network’s attempt to challenge rivals like Google and Yelp for the local dollars.

By putting call-to-action directly within local marketers’ placements in users’ feeds, Facebook is expanding its Local Awareness Ads initiative in a way that moves the social network’s offerings for brick-and-mortars from promoting a brand’s page and place to allowing companies to directly connecting consumers to actual salespeople.

In its news release, Facebook referred to it as its “new local awareness objective,” and described it as “the first Facebook ad objective created explicitly for local businesses like yours.”

In fact, Facebook introduced its Local Awareness Ads program last October, an advertising initiative that, aimed specifically at local businesses, was built to be more cost-effective than traditional advertising mediums and to provide better targeting and greater reach. The first incarnation of the service touted a “Get Directions” button that consumers could tap to access an address a mapped route to the business of choice.

Local businesses can set local awareness ads from their Facebook pages and select “call to action,” and then select the area they’re looking to target and set a budget. The “Call Now” button may be chosen in lieu of the “Get Directions” button, at the bottom of the ad, but cannot implement both features at once. The tools are quite similar to those offered in Google’s search engine, which in a sense, makes it feel less like an ad, and more like a listing.

In its announcement, Facebook claimed that the ads are “optimized so you can reach the most amount of people for the least amount of money,” and offered a testimonial from Chris Dahlander, founder and CEO, of Snappy Salads, who stated that after using launching a local awareness ad campaign on Facebook, the business saw “a lot more first timers coming in.”

Facebook might expect to see more first timers too, in the realm of advertisers. As of February, the platform hosted more than two million active advertisers, and issued a Thank You note that was geared largely toward local establishments.