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Facebook launches search function: Everything SMEs need to know and do to prepare

Businesses must continue making their Facebook pages more interesting, detailed and relevant, the social network has warned, following the announcement last night of its latest venture – a search engine.

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg took to the stage at the company's headquarters in order to show off the Graph Search product, which allows users to search their friends, pages and connections for data.

"The main thing they're saying here is to make sure you have your Facebook Page up to date, make sure you're active, and have good information," says StewArt Media chief executive Jim Stewart.

Despite Wall Street anticipating a phone-based product, investors are clearly concerned over how Facebook Graph Search could shake things up – shares in business review site Yelp fell 8% following the announcement.

The move is also being touted as one that could shake up Google's ownership of the web search space.

Graph Search is a new feature in Facebook which allows you to search through your connections, as well as the total Facebook ecosystem. The search engine gathers data from all Facebook profiles, pages, and information, to bring you results.

The product is an attempt to capitalise on a growing problem – how to give users the ability to search their growing social profiles. While internet users still depend on web search, they're also hungry for tools which allow them to search through social networks.

For instance, as Zuckerberg pointed out, users can search for phrases like, "restaurants liked by my friends", or "cities my families have been to", or even something more specific, like "photos of friends before 1999".

graph-search

The amount of data being leveraged for such a venture is huge – Facebook has one billion members and even more connections between users. Along with photos, business pages and check-ins, Facebook is sitting on a gold mine of data that, until now, hasn't been easily searchable.

Zuckerberg underlined several things during his presentation, but also repeatedly said the Graph Search is not a web search tool.

"Web search is designed to take any open-ended query and give you links that might have answers," he said. What Facebook is doing is much harder, he says.

"Graph Search is designed to take a precise query and give you an answer, rather than links that might provide the answer."

The product is in beta right now, and will roll out to users slowly over the coming weeks. People, photos, places and interests will be included in the first version of Graph Search.

The search results can be extremely personal, with users able to search for friends who like specific things. One Facebook employee showed off a search which queried "friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter".

"If anyone else does this search they get a completely different set of results," he said.

"Even if someone had the same set of friends as me, the results would be different."

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