Social media has become so mainstream that many people now use platforms like Facebook as their main form of communication. Often users will even check if a company has a Facebook page before searching the Internet. With the ever-expanding number of users, the company's developers are constantly introducing new features to make the platform better. The latest announced feature will bring with it some pretty big changes to the way the service is used.
This new feature is called Graph Search, and with its introduction comes a number of new ways one can use Facebook.
What exactly is Graph Search? The idea of Graph Search is that it provides users with a new way to search the Internet. Now, you won't be using it like you would other search engines - to find websites - instead you will use it to find people, pictures, posts, information, etc., already published on Facebook. This feature integrates with Open Graph - a feature that allows users to share pictures, music, videos, etc., with the public.
If you enter a search query that Facebook can't find results for within the platform, it will return results from Bing (Microsoft's search engine). This is an interesting move, mainly because of Bing's lower usage rates compared with Google. Then again, Google does have Google+ - an impending major competitor of Facebook. And knowing Google, they would use Facebook's information, something Facebook probably doesn't want.
What is the main focus of this feature? Bing search results aside, Graph Search focuses on four main areas: People, Pictures, Locations and Interests/Likes. It takes these four focuses and combines them into a near limitless amount of search possibilities. Want to find small business owners, who like Office 365, in San Diego, in California? What about: Friends of friends who like Windows 8 and are looking for work? This will be possible.
Graph Search essentially turns Facebook into a powerful recruiting tool, an incredible specific targeted marketing tool, a great way to find new friends, and more. Upon its release, it will be available for finding information related to the four focuses, but you can be sure that highly advanced marketing and advertising tools that use this feature aren't too far behind.
How do I prepare for it? There's no doubt that this could give small businesses a large boost, both in terms of presence and marketing power. This will also likely make having a Facebook profile essential if you want to be considered to have any form of valuable Internet presence at all. But, with every up there must be a down. If you don't have content, or have incorrect information on your profile, you will be either glossed over or could see your online reputation falter. Here are five things you can do to get ready for the switch:
- Confirm business details - Go through your profile and ensure your contact details are up-to-date and accurate. This includes your address, email, operating hours, etc. Any spelling mistakes and people will likely miss you in search results.
- Confirm your classification - When you signed up for a Facebook Page you were asked to pick an industry your business operates in. It would be a good idea to check this and ensure you are in the right industry classification. This can be done by: Going to the Admin Panel, selecting Edit Page followed by Update Information.
- Get some content ready - Content, especially pictures, likes and shares, are about to become very important. So, go find some interesting images, articles and Facebook pages and share or like them. Just be careful what you like, because this could be used against you.
- Check existing content - Perform a profile audit to check and see if there are any posts that can be considered as inappropriate, offensive, or implicate you in any negative manner. Use your best judgement: If you think it's a little controversial, or could be construed to be negative, then you're better off unliking it, or deleting the post.
- Optimize SEO - When the masses start using Graph Search, there's a high chance that many Facebook power users will no longer switch over to Google to conduct a search. They will likely just do this from Facebook. If you haven't been conducting any Search Engine Optimization, now may be the time to start.