What Facebook’s New Social Graph Search May Mean for Small Businesses

facebook open graphMuch has already been made of Facebook’s big press conference yesterday where Mark Zuckerberg unveiled new Social Graph Search. But what is it, exactly?

In a lot of ways, Facebook Graph Search makes a lot of sense intuitively: enough that it’s almost a surprise that we haven’t had it before. Basically, it’s using the ties between us all and all the data Facebook has to spit back out search results. Given how much data Facebook has, it’s easy to imagine that Graph Search could be pretty powerful.

Facebook itself gave several examples of how this kind of search will work. One idea was using interests or likes of your friends to find compatible invitees for a movie night. But for a less personal (but more far-reaching) example, Facebook point out how a journalist might use the Social Graph. You can read their official post here for a thorough explanation, but the basic idea is that journalists will be able to use FB as a Rolodex. You could look up people by where they worked when, or if Facebook Places has them at the scene of a big event.

Keep in mind, this is search: the idea is to deliver relevant results. The data that it pulls from is only your public data or data that’s already shared between friends. Still though, we will undoubtedly hear lots about privacy concerns as people are again surprised by how much data they’re sharing.

So, what about small businesses? Well first, that whole “Rolodex of strangers” applies to them, too. It’s a great place to look for potential leads, connectors, mentors, or even talent (freelance or permanent). It also means that it’ll be more important that businesses start to treat Facebook more like LinkedIn or even Google: if people are using FB to find info, you want them to be able to find you too. And don’t forget places: if you own a brick-and-mortar location, or even just an office somewhere, you’ll want to think of smart ways to get people checking into whatever you have to offer.

Relax though, you have some time: Facebook is currently releasing access slowly. But it’s certainly something to think about now: Facebook wants to be your Google, your email, your instant messenger, your resume and your Rolodex.