“How can we make Facebook more useful in your everyday life?” said Andrew Bosworth, Facebook’s head of advertising technology and local teams. Facebook’s work in this arena would continue “over the course of the next months and years,” he added.
The moves show how Facebook is trying to move beyond its traditional social networking function. In recent years, personal sharing on Facebook has been declining, forcing the company to seek other ways to keep its users hooked.
Earlier this month, Facebook rolled out Marketplace, a new section within the app enabling buying and selling between users. A separate mobile app for events on Facebook made its debut a few days later. Users can purchase movie tickets through Facebook’s partnership with Fandango Inc.
“Given the kind of data that they have on people, they believe there is a lot more utility they can provide,” said Robert W. Baird analyst Colin Sebastian.
The utilitarian tools represent a subtle shift for Facebook, which in recent months has been emphasizing the social aspects of its site. In June, it said posts from friends and family in its news feeds would trump content from publishers and public figures, making the site more personal.
Some of the recently added features bridge the gap between the social and the utilitarian, such as a new recommendation feature added Wednesday. In that tool, users can more easily ask their Facebook friends for recommendations of restaurants or local handymen and Facebook will plot those businesses on a map.
For now, Facebook says it won’t use this data to serve ads and drum up advertising revenue. Facebook says the features are shaped by the way its users tend to interact with the site.
There are risks to Facebook’s utilitarian strategy. Building more useful features will require Facebook to bolster its search function, which Mr. Sebastian described as “still not particularly well-developed.”
The success of the features relies in large part on how easy Facebook makes it to find them, said Jed Kleckner, CEO of delivery.com, one of Facebook’s food-delivery partners. “How do [users] learn about this without having to proactively go find it?” he said.
Facebook also doesn’t have direct control over the user experience. Hours after launching the Marketplace tab, users started posting guns, drugs and other banned items for sale. Facebook apologized and halted the rollout of Marketplace until it could get the issues under control.
Facebook is relying on partnerships with third parties to support the new features rolled out Wednesday. Ticket sales are operated by Ticketmaster Entertainment, Inc. and Eventbrite.