It's been nearly a week since Facebook rocked the world with its Open Graph announcements, and many of us are still wrapping our heads around all of the implications they have. I don't think there's any dispute that it's a huge move, and that it's important to pay attention to from a business perspective, but just what it means for businesses is still up in the air in some regards. Like Facebook itself, or even social media in general, we're going to see more benefits (and possibly negatives) as time goes on, and more sites and applications harness the power of said Open Graph.
As those wheels turn in our heads, there is plenty of discussion already happening around the subject - not just the Open Graph and the issues related to it (open web ramifications, privacy, etc), but how we can indeed take advantage of it.
In a recent article we talked about why Facebook's Open Graph and particularly its social plug-ins will be good to drive traffic. It's pretty straightforward. The like and recommendation buttons are essentially different versions of the share buttons that people have been using to drive traffic for quite some time. The main difference is that instead of only showing up in the news feed only disappear shortly thereafter, they will remain on the user's profile page for people to see in the future - a fixed link to your content.
Have you seen more traffic from Facebook's buttons since they've launched? Let us know.
Search Engine Land contributing editor Greg Sterling makes some interesting points about the search implications of the whole thing:
However, the vision here is a network of discovery tools and information that operate higher up in the funnel than search: what are my friends doing, where are they eating, what do they recommend? This clearly doesn’t eliminate the need for search. But it does represent an alternative way in many cases to discover information.
Yet the mountains of data that Facebook will gain could improve Facebook search results and potentially the coming, new and improved Bing integration. At a simple level, if Facebook knows the most “Liked” sushi restaurants in New York and those liked by my social network it can show me that information in search results. That hypothetically makes Facebook search much more social and more of a “recommendations engine” than Google at this point.
Nobody's saying Facebook is poised to replace Google, but the whole thing falls inline with the diversification of search we've been talking about a lot lately. Search is getting more diversified, meaning that people are using more and more applications to find the information they're looking for. Facebook obviously plays a huge role in this. Also consider that Facebook's search market share has been on the rise, and it stands to reason that will continue as more and more data becomes available as this Open Graph expands.
Do you see Facebook's own search becoming more of a go-to place for finding information? Comment here.
Assuming that every business rushes to get like/recommend buttons from Facebook in the way that they would rush to claim a listing in Google's Local Business Center (Now named Google Places), Facebook may become a very valuable place to find out the best businesses to go to for any given category.
As Sterling says on his Screenwerk blog, "It could do nothing in particular or it could build the single most effective local directory and search site that exists. This data will be more valuable than anything Google has or any individual local publisher-partner possesses. That includes Yelp, YPG or anyone else that joins the Open Graph and implements these new Facebook platform tools."
This is mostly forward thinking, and we don't know what Facebook is going to do. It's definitely something to keep eye on. Either way, local businesses are likely to attract fans from their areas with more friends from that area, who may in turn pass it to their friends in the area. Facebook has already been a great marketing tool for local businesses, and the Open Graph will only help in that regard.
Do you think Facebook is going to become increasingly important for local businesses? Share your thoughts.
Facebook's latest changes have plenty of implications for reputation management. Likes and recommendations are potentially great for building a good reputation, but even while there is no dislike button (at least yet), a lack of likes/recommendations may reflect poorly on your brand, particularly when your competition is getting all kinds of love from Facebook users.
On the other side of things, you may want to be careful what you like and recommend yourself. Wording of likes and recommendations can come off as inappropriate, but the bigger issue may be liking and recommending stuff that that paints you in a non-professional light. Depending on what you do and the image you are trying to portray, this may or many not be a problem, but for those who wish to be careful about how others perceive them, this is something to think about.
Should you be concerned about likes/recommendations from a reputation standpoint? Tell us what you think.
Another thing worth mentioning about all of this is that Facebook is showing suggestions for things to like and recommend to new users. Facebook has posted something of an FAQ for the new features that aims to clarify how it all works for users.