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January 18, 2013

The big news in the social media world this week is Facebook’s search revamp. Graph Search gives you new ways to find people connected to you and around you by using what we in the tech world call natural language searching (that is, searching in the same way you’d normally speak, as in “friends I know in Boston”).

I’ve been playing around with Graph Search for about a day, and I’ve found it’s a great chance to find not only personal connections, but connections for business as well. Here are a few ideas.

Find friends at a new client

Are you approaching a new business, or have you just signed a deal with one? Try searching for “My friends who work at Widgets, Inc.” (replacing “Widgets, Inc.” with a real company). If you’re not familiar with the business, your friends who work there might be able to help you reach out to the right people. It’s also a great way to show that you have a personal connection to the business.

Find people for lunch

When you do business online, you find that many of the people who follow your business aren’t local. If you’re spending some time away from home, it’s a great chance to meet some of the people you wouldn’t normally see day-to-day. Graph Search is a great way to find them.

graph-search-for-business

Type “People who like [your company] who live near [the place you're visiting]” into Graph Search. This will find people you know and people you don’t who’ve said they like your business in a certain place. Inviting someone out to lunch or coffee can be a good way to develop a deeper connection.

Find photos

Try searching for “Photos taken at [your company]” if you’re a brick-and-mortar shop with a place listing on Facebook. If you’re a popular hangout, change it to “Photos in this month taken at [your company]“. That’s a new view of what’s happening at your company, and it might be a good chance to share something taken from the people who frequent your business (though you may want to ask permission first).

There’s one last thing – and this is a pretty big last thing. As with everything in social media, don’t be annoying, bothersome, or creepy. Don’t just fire off messages to everyone you see in a list; it’s not good to be known as “that company that always pesters me”. (That’s why people hate telemarketers.) Use social media to your advantage in creative ways that will benefit you, your current customers, and your potential customers. That’s the best way to be remembered.

Graph Search is rolling out to everyone soon, so start thinking about how you want to use it now!

Justin is one of the developers at Sephone. He's interested in user-driven design, social media, and web services. He also enjoys learning and exploring new ways for businesses and people to use the web.

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