Following our blog last month on Facebook Recommendations, two new Facebook features have appeared on their mobile app which could influence where people travel and the things that they do when they get there.

Facebook City Guides, a potential challenger to Foursquare, shows a list of cities which your friends have visited with recommendations on places to go and things to do.  When users click on a city they see rounded icons for friends who have visited.  By tapping on each one, places that they've visited such as restaurants and attractions will display (using data extracted from users check-ins and posts).

Up until now Facebook hasn't really exploited the data that users create in their status updates which is surprising as friends are an obvious source of ideas on what to do and where to go when visiting a city for the first time.

The 'Places the Locals Go' feature pulls in some of the most high rated, popular spots and displays a summary of what people are saying.  The items displayed (restaurants, activities, attractions etc.) can be saved to a list of favourites to be accessed later from a 'Saved' section at the top of the city's page.   Lists of cities can be saved too to allow users to create a bucket list.

Upcoming Events and Popular Attractions are also provided for bookmarking. Unfortunately City Guides only includes major cities at the moment but we hear that it will probably be expanded to include smaller destinations in the future.  

In additon to City Guides, Facebook users may have noticed the appearance of a row of small circular profile pictures at the top of their news feed.  This is the new Facebook Stories feature which was rolled out on the 28th March. The launch follows the success of Instagram's Stories which was launched in August 2016 and now has more than 150m daily users across the world. The habit of sharing personal content like images and videos has declined generally on Facebook and has shifted to more personal closed communities such as Snapchat and Instagram so Facebook Stories aims to fulfil that need.

Similar to Instagram and Snapchat, Facebook Stories uses a short user-generated collections of photos and vidoes which can only be viewed twice and disappear 24 hours after posting. There are two elements to Facebook Stories at the top of the news feed. Direct (the paper plane icon) is a new private messaging feature which is linked to Stories where users can view images and videos which have been sent to them directly or see replies to their own stories.  It is separate to Facebook Messenger as users can only start a conversation with an image or video rather than text.

Users tap the 'Your Story' icon to begin telling their story.  Like Snapchat, filters and lenses can be overlaid as well as a large range of other effects such as artist inspired filters, colour reactive masks and interactive overlays.  The content which friends have shared to Stories will also appear at the top of the user's feed and they can reply with a direct message.

Athough Facebook Stories is not available for Business Pages yet, DMOs need to be aware that this and the new City Guides feature represent two new channels for visitors to spread the word about their destinations.  We'll be watching with interest to see if they both take off.

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