For most of its life, Facebook has had a very primitive search function, not that it’s exactly stymied the network’s growth. But the launch of Graph Search on Jan. 15 shook things up considerably, providing users the ability to search numerous aspects of its members’ personal data.
The focus is on four different categories: people, photos, places, and interests. What’s cool about Graph Search is how it weights aspects that are similar to those of people (or businesses) to which you’re connected on Facebook. For example, places that your connections “Like” or perform a check-in will show up higher on your Graph Search.
The changes to Facebook’s search function make the platform much more useful for marketing purposes, but as a Facebook user, you should also be aware that it makes information you might have considered private — or at least information you didn’t necessarily want to broadcast to the world — far more easily accessible.
If you’ve “Liked” certain pages without much consideration, be advised that a Graph Search can show all that info unless you’ve restricted that information in your privacy settings. Similarly, if people have restricted that information in their own settings, you won’t get “hits” for them when you perform a search.
On the other hand, you should use the Graph Search function to make sure that everything you want users to find when they search for businesses and services similar to yours will show up. You need to get your social profile in order.
Graph Search and Facebook other new product, Nearby, is expected to make the social network a major player in user-friendly local searches, giving Yelp, Google, and Foursquare a run for their collective money.
Going forward your approach needs to change as far as your goals for your business on Facebook. In the past brand content and updates were vital in order to stay relevant within your timeline and for news feed exposure reasons. With the introduction of Graph Search the importance of those updates has been lowered dramatically. Ranking within Graph Search is all about SOCIAL CONNECTIONS.
They even have ‘Photos’ as its own category now. So that means encouraging your fans, customers, etc. to check-in, recommend, rate and add photos to your pages is that much more important going forward.
Why? Because these social connections are pretty much the “links” that Facebook uses to determine relevancy and authority. It’s these photos, likes, check-ins, recommendations, etc. that the Graph Search algorithm will use to qualify and personalize results for Facebook users.
In a very real sense, “Likes” (and “+1’s” on Google+) are becoming the “links” of the new digital era. What you like defines you (and/or your business).