facebookYou never quite know what Facebook has up its sleeve, and once you do find out, you never quite know if they’re onto something or if they were just having another one of those creative better-luck-next-time Facebook moments. However, just last month they announced that a new search system called Graph Search was in Beta testing. If the test does pass and we have a new way of searching for and filtering results based on Facebook data (I can see Google sweating now), it seems as though it could potentially be a great new opportunity for users as well as businesses to get connected.

How Facebook’s Graph Search Works

Facebook put out an introductory page to help those with questions see how the new Graph Search works. In a nutshell, it’s going to to help you type in searches that pull up results related to your friends. For example, I could search something like “photos of my friends in New York” and Facebook will pull up all of those results. As an individual going to New York, I might be interested in seeing some of the sights that my friends found interesting (especially great for those friends we can’t really ask—we all know that a “Facebook friend” is a bit different than someone you saw last Friday night).

Because Graph Search is still in the Beta testing stage, it is only available to select people in the U.S. You can, however, sign up to join the waiting list on the introductory page if you’re interested in possibly being one of the first. I’m still waiting for my request to be accepted, but CNETTV was able to make a great video:

One thing this video doesn’t touch on is the fact that Facebook doesn’t have all of their data and research gathered quite yet (hence still being in the beta stage). This means that if you do get to try it early, typing in certain searches might not give you a full list of results at the current moment.

Top Reasons Why Graph Search Just Might Be Brilliant

A few reasons that Graph Search is getting so much great publicity include:

  • It gives “likes” real meaning. In the past people haven’t been able to find quite as much of a reason for “likes” on a Facebook page because it can so easily be ignored. Now, businesses have a real reason to grab these likes—showing up in the new Facebook search engine.
  • Great for local search. Facebook has so much local data available at their fingertips, and it seems like the new Graph Search will really take advantage. This offers so many potential business opportunities: zip code ad targeting, local page publishing, etc.
  • Strength of connections becomes more important. For example, when people begin searching for restaurants in a particular area, it’s those restaurants that are “liked” by that person’s friends that matter. This means that a company “liking” your page might not be as beneficial as someone with hundreds of friends. After all, friends are going to look at their good friends’ results first.
  • Competitor insights. Businesses can conduct their own searches to learn more about their competition in relation to their fans.

Some experts have expressed concern that Facebook has not yet made it clear to advertisers the benefit and how to get there, but most are hoping that this will come in all due time.

How Your Company Can Take Advantage of Facebook’s Graph Search

Although you might not be able to use Graph Search just yet, you can still prepare for its arrival by checking in to different places and becoming more active clicking that “like” button. People will likely be typing in things like “SEO companies my friends like,” so you want to be on that list now more than ever, so ramp up your efforts.

It’s also a good idea to listen to a few of the points discussed above—take a look at your competition, take a look at the depth of your relationships, and think about local search and how you can advertise in that market.

What are your thoughts on the Facebook Graph Search? Do you think it sounds like a success, or do you not see much point in changing the way their existing search function works? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Photo Credit: money.cnn.com