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Shares of Facebook stock are still trading below 40% of the social media company’s initial public offering of $38, but CEO Mark Zuckerburg’s announcement of a Facebook search engine serves as a light at the end of a tunnel for many investors. According to research firm eMarketer, search engines are an $18 billion industry. Now Zuckerburg says that Facebook has more personal data than any other website, which puts him in an ideal position to transform the social network into the world’s first true “social search engine.”
This article by CNET refers to Facebook’s search practices as “friend mining,” extracting specific answers to your questions by diving into your friends’ opinions. Speaking to a crowd at the TechCrunch Digital SF conference, Zuckerburg described how a Facebook user could instantly find restaurants based on friends’ past status updates, reviews and likes. The same holds true for auto dealerships; with this Facebook Search application, every comment, status update, and “like” that your dealership receives are logged in a database and retrieved when a shopper searches for you.
The implications for this kind of search engine are enormous. With this development, Facebook can seriously contend with social review companies like Yelp while monetizing search results in the same vein as Google. Perhaps the most ingenious thing about Facebook’s proposed search engine is that users don’t even know they’re participating in the search process. “If I write on Facebook that I had a phenomenal meal, Facebook could have a text box pop up that would ask me if I would like to rate it, give it a thumbs up,” said Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities Internet analyst.
This news isn’t just making Wall Street investors reevaluate their low estimation of Facebook – it’s also making business owners realize the importance of every customer review that is posted. Facebook will be able to summarize public opinion of your business – and the best strategy is to leave a positive social media footprint.
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