Facebook suggests similar pages after users click Like on page’s Timeline

pagesFacebook is trying a new module that immediately recommends additional pages to Like after a user clicks the Like button on a page’s Timeline.

When users click Like on some pages, a box of “More Pages You May Like” appears beneath the page’s cover photo. Facebook will show pages from a similar category, whether it’s local pages, entertainment or others, however this does not seem to be appearing on all pages. It should also be noted that these are not paid placements. Facebook makes these recommendations organically based on location, category and other pages that fans of one page also Like.

Facebook New Local Page Like Suggestions
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Graph Search: a recommendation engine only Facebook could power

open graphFacebook’s new Graph Search is unlike any other search engine. It opens the vault of likes and interests stored in Facebook and combines it with meaningful social identity.

In other words, it’s something only Facebook could do.

When people sign up for the social network, they list their age, gender, relationship status, hometown, current city, schools, workplace and much more. Every subsequent action people take on Facebook is connected to that identity, so when someone Likes a movie or checks into a restaurant, Facebook starts to get a picture of the type of person who is a fan of a particular movie or goes to a certain restaurant.

Now with Graph Search, that information will be accessible to the average user, and it will be able to be uncovered in reverse. It’s one thing to be able to see that a movie is liked by women between the ages of 16 and 36 who also like American Idol. It’s another to enable users to search for “movies liked by women between 16 and 36 and who like American Idol.” That’s what Graph Search does.

movies-women-like-american-idol
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Facebook makes recommendation stories in the feed more visual

Facebook has redesigned News Feed stories about users recommending places to include more images.

Recommendation stories now display the place’s cover photo in addition to its profile picture. The story will also include a user’s star rating if the user has made one. The new design is more likely to catch users’ eyes in the feed and could lead more people discover places their friends like. It might also encourage a user’s friends to share their recommendation for a place if they’ve been to it.

recommendation-story

Ratings and recommendations are a key part of Facebook’s new Nearby search for mobile and are going to be important as the even newer Graph Search feature rolls out to users on desktop.

Recommendations are only enabled for pages that are associated with a location. Any fan page can gain this status by adding an address to its info section, though we imagine Facebook might one day expand recommendations to all pages, including consumer goods, websites and other services. Place recommendations first appeared in May 2011, but Nearby and Graph Search show the company increasing its emphasis on helping users find new places to go based on friends’ experiences.

New recommendation story

new-recommendation

Previous recommendation story
old-recommendation

Facebook tests star ratings for places

Facebook appears to be testing star ratings for places, similar to the system it uses for apps.

Some users are seeing a “rate these places” module in the sidebar with the option to give one to five stars to places they’ve been to or Liked. This feature could help Facebook better organize places in search or a new recommendation engine, as it has done with App Center.

[Update 10/30/12: Some users are seeing a version of the module that includes a short note about how a user is connected to the location. After users rate a place, the module refreshes with another location to rate.]

Facebook takes a unique approach to ratings to avoid manipulation. App ratings use random sampling rather than appearing on a static page that anyone can visit. This way, it is much more difficult to game the system and ratings are more reflective of how people feel about an app. Facebook seems to have done the same with places, but we’re waiting to hear back for confirmation.

The social network has a little-known location search feature that could rival Yelp or Google for business searches if the company decided to put resources toward developing it. Star ratings could be the start to an overhaul of the product, which would benefit from a mobile component.

Last month, a Bloomberg Businessweek article hinted that Facebook had a new review feature in the works:

During a meeting in a conference room near his desk, [VP of Engineering Mike] Schroepfer leads a group of engineers in a half-hour debate over the design of a restaurant review feature. Should it have a five-star rating option, a Like button, or both? Should there be animation? Does it feel natural? At the end of the meeting, Schroepfer and one other guy remain at odds over the Like vs. Stars question.

From what we’ve seen, pages still have Like buttons and the modules have stars, but it’s possible Facebook is testing different variations.

On place pages themselves, users can already leave “recommendations” in a module on the timeline. Facebook also tested a “favorite places” module in the sidebar last year. These units would show users two places they had checked into and ask “which place do you like better?” Users could click a “see your favorites” link in the module to see a ranked list of all the places they voted for, but this hasn’t been available for a year or so.

Thanks to Ryan Plant for the tip and the top screenshot.

TripAdvisor adds personalization based on friends of Facebook friends

TripAdvisor today expanded the personalization of its travel site to highlight reviews from friends of users’ Facebook friends.

When people research hotels, attractions or other vacation information on the site, they will see reviews first from their friends, followed by reviews from friends of friends. Visitors have the option to send the the reviewer a private message with further travel questions. TripAdvisor says this friends of friends feature means visitors are now 10 times more likely to see social context when they use the travel site.

For example, a user might not have any friends who have rated hotels in Istanbul, but there is much higher probability that one of the hundreds of thousands of the user’s friends of friends has. You can try it for yourself here. Make sure you’re logged into Facebook, then scroll down and look for a notification like the one seen right.

TripAdvisor VP of Global Product, Adam Medros tells us one out of four new reviews on the site is created by users who have logged in with Facebook. He says the site also only shows friends of friends’ data for “opinionated content” — ratings and reviews — not in other features like lists of friends who have visited or lived in a place, where it might not be as relevant. TripAdvisor also includes friends’ names and profile photos, but doesn’t provide full names or photos of friends of friends, which are not likely to have the same meaning to users.

TripAdvisor has a long history developing travel-related apps on the Facebook platform. The travel site created Cities I’ve Visited in 2007. The app, which let users add pins on a map to the places they’ve been, quickly surpassed competitors and still has 3.4 million monthly active users today, according to AppData. TripAdvisor became an “Instant Personalization” partner in 2010, and remains one of only eight sites that can access basic Facebook user data without requiring users to authorize an app.

With Instant Personalization, TripAdvisor can show any logged-in Facebook user which of their friends has indicated that they’ve been to a destination or reviewed something on the site. It pulls data from users’ profiles like hometown, current city, check-ins and Likes, as well as data from the Cities I’ve Visited app. The company also launched an Open Graph-enabled version of Cities I’ve Visited this year and is considering ways it might do the same for the main TripAdvisor site.

Other apps like Yelp, and even Facebook itself, would benefit from showing friends of friends’ information similar to how TripAdvisor now does. Facebook seems to use data from friends of friends to influence its internal search rankings and other algorithms, but it doesn’t explain how and where it does so. The most explicit use of friends of friends’ data appears on the social network’s careers page which lists “people you might know who work at Facebook.” Underneath those words are thumbnails and links to Facebook employees with whom users have mutual friends.

We haven’t yet seen Facebook promote social games or personalize pages based on friends of friends activity, but one day it might. For example, if users don’t have any friends who play a particular game, Facebook could display how many friends of friends are active users. Facebook could also prioritize page posts or place recommendations from friends of friends, along with a note about how users are connected to the author.

If Facebook expands its search product, as it is rumored to, we might see the company put more emphasis on friends of friends’ data in order to provide social context in areas that a person’s immediate connections don’t cover. Although, seeing how TripAdvisor has incorporated Facebook suggests the social network might not have to improve its own search. It can let Bing, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes and others make their search features more personalized by including friends of friends’ recommendations.

Facebook adds recommendation feature to mobile touch site

Facebook is testing a recommendation tab for some pages on its mobile touch site. As the company continues to build out its mobile pages with social recommendations and additional information, it could become an alternative to Yelp and other location-based search and review products.

In May, users gained the option to read and write recommendations for locations and any page with an address listed on Facebook. Bringing the feature to mobile devices has been an obvious next step so users can learn what their friends and others think of places nearby.

For now, users can access recommendations from m.facebook.com on touch devices, not the native apps. Users can search for a page by name or browse “Nearby.” At the top of the mobile page is a “More” option, which includes “Recommendation” in a drop-down menu. From there, users can write a recommendation (and adjust their privacy settings for the post) or read reviews from friends and the general public. As on the web, the default view is recommendations from friends.

Recommendations are only enabled for pages that are associated with a location. Any fan page can gain this status by adding an address to its info section, though it is likely Facebook will one day expand recommendations to all pages, including consumer goods, websites and other services.

When recommendations become available in Facebook’s mobile apps, stores and restaurants may start including “Recommend us on Facebook” calls to action at their locations, just as they encourage visitors to review them on Yelp. When users write on a page wall, that post can get quickly buried by more recent posts. Recommendations, however, are displayed separately and can be highly influential to a person’s friends and other users. They also generate a News Feed story which includes a link for a person’s friends to also write a recommendation.

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