Look out, Yelp and Foursquare, there’s a new app [update] in town. On December 17th, Facebook rolled out an update to their Android and iPhone mobile apps that allows users to discover new businesses around them and recommend those businesses to friends.

In the previous version of the Facebook mobile app, the “Nearby” tab gave users a list of their friends who had checked into places on Facebook most recently, and where they were. A neat feature that did allow some social discovery through word of mouth, but this latest update opens up a whole new world of opportunity for both users and small business owners.

What’s new? Upon clicking the “Nearby” tab now, users are taken to a map of their current location with a list of nearby businesses below – much like Yelp and Foursquare’s apps. When one of those options is clicked, the user is taken to a page where they can read reviews, check in, like, call, rate, or view the business’s details and timeline.

Users can also click the search bar and narrow their results by category – nearby, restaurants, coffee, nightlife, outdoors, arts, hotels, and shopping. Not too shabby, Facebook.

While the concept of finding nearby places and comparing them with users to whom you are connected is not a revolutionary one – Yelp and Foursquare provide friend groups – plugging these services in to people’s social networks on Facebook is a big deal. Because users’ activity is reported in real time to their biggest social network, the possibilities for social discovery and amplification are unmatched.

Check-in activity is already reported in users friends’ news feeds, so that part is not new. However, this huge advance in check-in functionality could conceivably mean that more and more people will begin to use Facebook Places as their main (if not only) app for reporting their location. And that can mean a big jump in exposure for brick-and-mortar businesses on the social network.

How as a small business owner do you plan to take advantage of this Facebook mobile update?

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