As Facebook rolls out Graph Search to all U.S. users, we break down the key facts for individuals and businesses.
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"The evolution of this product is clear," Bar-Joseph said in an email interview. "Once Graph Search is released and becomes popular -- and it will -- Facebook will release an ad product that allows you to promote your Page on search results." Bar-Joseph said it's not yet clear whether advertising will take a Google approach (ads wrapped around organic results), a Twitter approach (ads woven into regular tweets), or something else altogether. But no matter the format, it's coming. "They will find a way to do it so they can monetize this new feature," Bar-Joseph said.
Advertising aside, Bar-Joseph's first bit of Graph Search advice for businesses: If you don't already have a Facebook Page, it's time to get one. If it's already up and running, then these are some of the steps you should take to make sure it's optimized for Graph Search.
4. Likes Are More Important.
It's been an oft-debated topic: What's the business value of a like on Facebook? (Or a follower on Twitter, or any other unit of social currency.) Graph Search makes likes more important, especially for businesses that want their pages to be highly discoverable.
"Since the search results are based [in part] on what your network liked, for a page to show up in search people need to like it first," Bar-Joseph said. "Therefore, if you have a business page you want to push, make sure you work on getting as many people as possible to like it."
5. Content Still Reigns.
A barren page won't do your business much good. It needs compelling, current content or Graph Search won't be much help for marketers and other professionals. A search for a good restaurant, for example, will depend in part on the data shared by the searcher's friends; the other big variable will be the information shared by the business. Retail businesses will want to ensure that their full, current address is listed, for example, or you can forget up showing up in any local searches. And while you can take the gimmick-and-stunt approach to generating likes, the ones that actually prove valuable will come from consistent engagement.
Bar-Joseph said photos and other visuals will also take on increasing importance, both on your pages and in search results. "With over 250 billion photos in Facebook, it's already known that pictures, images, photos are pivotal for engagement on Facebook," he said. "Graph Search makes them as central as possible -- [think] big pictures next to the results. Attracting searchers to your page when you show up on the results will be more a factor of how good and intriguing your image is than anything else."
6. Keywords Still Matter.
Facebook is taking some pains to point out how Graph Search will be different (read: better) than Web search (read: Google). But keywords will still matter. "Like any search engine out there, even Graph Search will have to use keywords for some contextual indexing. This includes your metadata -- profile information, location, description, et cetera) as well as the keywords you are using in your updates," Bar-Joseph said. "If you want to show in a search results for "Florist my friends used in LA," then you need to make sure Facebook knows you're a florist located in LA."
7. Mobile: Coming Soon (Depending On Your Definition Of Soon)
Like Facebook's advertising platform and other features, the mobile version of Graph Search will trail the website version -- it's not available yet. "We're also working on getting mobile Graph Search ready," the company said in its announcement, though it didn't put a timetable on that release.
8. On Your Toes, Security Pros
As Spiezle of the Online Trust Alliance noted, with technology innovation often comes a downside. If Graph Search indeed makes it easier to find stuff on Facebook, that holds true for everyone -- bad people included. Facebook is already a juicy target for hacks, scams, social engineering attacks, and other social media security pains. It doesn't require much courage to make this prediction: Graph Search will open a new, large threat vector for IT and security pros to manage. Make sure your users are paying attention as Graph Search continues to evolve.
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