On Tuesday, Facebook announced that it has begun rolling out a limited beta release of its latest innovation: Graph Search. This is a biggie, particularly for small business owners, so read on if you are among them!

What is Graph Search?
The “social graph” refers to Facebook’s immense compilation of information about people and places that interact on the social network. So, Graph Search will take Facebook’s current search capabilities and add extra insights by displaying search results as they related to the social graph. So now, instead of searching for a particular Italian restaurant’s Facebook page, users can enter refined searching like “Italian restaurants in New York liked by my friends.” Or, as Facebook puts it, this new feature enables people to “find information through the filter of their friends.”

Why should small business owners take notice?
If you’re an entrepreneur with a small business Facebook page, you should be pretty stoked for a couple of reasons. First, in most search scenarios, it’s hard for small fish to compete with the big brands and rank highly in search results. However, Graph Search will customize results to the individual doing the searching, prioritizing businesses based on connections, not search optimization or popularity. So, using our earlier example, a conventional search for “Italian restaurants in New York” would be pretty challenging for a small family restaurant to show up in. With Graph Search, all it takes for your little pizzeria to rank above the big boys is 1 friend to have liked or mentioned your business on Facebook.

The other reason this is exciting for small business owners? As you probably know, consumers are 71% more likely to choose a product if a friend recommends it to them on social media (ragan.com). So, if someone who has never heard of your restaurant keys in a Graph Search and your name comes up as being liked by one of your friends, they’re far more likely to choose your business over others.

This announcement, in combination with the recent mobile update improving nearby places, shows that Facebook recognizes its potential impact for small businesses.

Want to try Graph Search for yourself? You can visit this page to sign up during the very limited beta release and see when you can start searching.

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