Facebook July 2 made a potentially powerful play to expand the visibility of its Facebook Pages by suggesting them to the social network's new users. When new people join the site they will see a list of Pages that other people in a similar demographic to them also commonly like. The move might seem small to the average observer, but it's a bigger deal to those who believe recommendation engines could supplant search in some instances. This is particularly poignant viewed through the lens of Facebook's battle with Google for Web users.
Facebook July 2 made a subtle but potentially powerful play to expand the
visibility of its Facebook Pages by suggesting them to the social network's new
Facebook Pages are Web pages on the social network that celebrities, public
figures, businesses and organizations use to promote themselves and their wares
and services. The company is banking on Pages as a major element to power
social advertising on the vast network.
There are many ways Facebook users discover new Pages. Facebook recommends
Facebook Pages to existing users in the Suggestions column in the right of the homepage.
The Website's roughly 500 million users receive suggestions for Facebook
Pages in their search box when they begin typing certain keywords. Facebook
Pages also surface in users' News Feed when their friends like Pages or share
content from them.
However, these recommendations only work for those users who have an
existing network and history of activity on Facebook.
Users starting from scratch on Facebook don't have a network of friends, so
they won't immediately see updates in their News Feed or receive suggestions
for friends and those of like tastes. Newcomers, of course, have no search
history, so there won't be many recommendations for Facebook Pages
To accelerate the rate at which Facebook Pages are discovered, when new
people join the site they will see a list of Pages that other people in a
similar demographic to them also commonly like, said Facebook software engineer
"We want to make sure that the Pages people connect to are as valuable
as possible, so we'll only suggest Pages that are posting engaging
updates," Mao said
in a blog post. "The list of Pages is strictly determined by an
algorithm, so none of the suggestions is sponsored and Page administrators
can't pay or ask to be included."
He also asked that existing Facebook users help friends new to the Website
by suggesting a Page to them by clicking the "Suggest to Friends"
link underneath the profile picture on those Facebook Pages.
The move might seem small to the average observer, but it's a bigger deal to
those who believe recommendation engines could supplant search in some
instances. This is particularly poignant viewed through the lens of Facebook's battle with Google for Web users.
ReadWriteWeb's Marshall Kirkpatrick noted about Facebook's latest move:
"User demographics, audience engagement metrics and syndicated feed
subscription are each data plays that can change the way software intersects
with users. Put them all together and there may never have been a platform that
knew so much about people, monitored publisher effectiveness so closely and
made subscription so easy for such an incredible number of people."
This is true to a point. One potential monkey wrench in the social
recommendation wheel is that they have been oversold today by hype, promise and
potential that have largely gone underserved by the average Web user.
If users begin to practice recommendations en masse, it could start a sea
change. That will be good for Facebook, but not for Google, whose
recommendation capabilities are sprinkled disparately across Web services such
as Google Reader and Google Buzz.