Welcome to the Facebook age

If you haven’t checked out Facebook’s latest product announcement, then you really should.

It’s a simple proposition, really: Take all the data that Facebook has on its network, then allow users to search through it comprehensively. It’s a great idea and solves a lot of problems users have.

If I want to search for a restaurant near my home, I could use Google. Or, I could just search through Facebook and likely find not only the same businesses, but notes telling me where my friends have dined and which restaurants they like the most.

Make no mistake – this is a huge move. It’s a small step now, but Facebook is setting itself up to become a major player in the search market. It could even challenge parts of what Google is doing already.

This also means big things for Facebook in the mobile space. A growing portion of searches are performed on mobile devices. As soon as Facebook starts introducing ads to its Search functionality, the sooner its share price might start ticking up.

This is all well and good. But the announcement highlights yet another self-inflicted problem Australian businesses are facing – too many of them don’t have any sort of information available online.

Forget about a website. That’s your absolute minimum. Now, the new normal is getting all your information out there. That includes pages on:

  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Yelp
  • YouTube (You don’t even have to put anything on there for now. Just claim it.)
  • And FourSquare if you’re so inclined

With Facebook now including the ability to search for pages, the information and activity on your page becomes even more important. This is a new type of SEO – search marketing that requires you to pump up the activity.

Thousands of businesses will hear this and start filling their pages with useless junk. Don’t do that. Just start caring about what you put on there. If you’re a retailer, don’t just put products on there. Take a hint from a company like Black Milk and just show interesting things that get people talking.

You don’t just want “likes” any more. You want activity. Focus on making posts that people actually “like”, and the rest will follow.

Your business is only going to get to the top of Facebook Search if people are talking about it. That means you have to offer them something more than what you’re doing now.

Put the hard yards in. Sit down for an hour or two with your marketing team and really think about the time you’re putting into your Facebook page. Make sure all your company details are on there, and then just start posting stuff that people will like. Social media isn’t rocket science – it’s easy to gain a following if you’re making the right moves.

You have to pay attention to two front pages now – Google and Facebook. They both require a large amount of support, so don’t slack off. It’s only going to become more important.

You can follow Patrick Stafford on Twitter @pdstafford.

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