Facebook to announce new product June 20


Facebook went old school in announcing the launch event for its newest product, sending invitations out to the media through snail mail.

The company told members of the media that it will introduce something new at its Menlo Park, Calif. office on Thursday, June 20. Reporters received an invitation from Facebook, with the words, “A small team has been working on a big idea. Join us for coffee and to learn about a new product.”

It’ll be interesting to see what Facebook introduces. The company has been aggressively launching new products and rebuilding old ones in the past few months. As Mark Zuckerberg, the company’s Co-Founder and CEO, previously explained, there are three pillars of Facebook: timeline, News Feed and Graph Search.

While both timeline and News Feed have undergone heavy renovations and redesigns, this could be a chance to introduce something new with regard to Graph Search, which has largely been unchanged since its introduction.


Facebook to eliminate sponsored search results

SponsoredResultsTeaserAs part of its recent advertising simplification push, Facebook is eliminating its sponsored search results ad unit. A Facebook spokesperson told Inside Facebook that the reason why the sponsored results will be nixed is because the most common marketers for them were app and game developers, and Facebook feels that the mobile app install ads and page post link ads are more efficient ways to reach this goal.

A Facebook spokesperson announced the news to Inside Facebook:

In keeping with the goal of streamlining our ad products, starting in July advertisers will no longer be able to buy sponsored results. We’ve seen that most marketers were buying sponsored results to advertise their apps and games, and we already offer mobile app install ads and Page post link ads on desktop to achieve these same goals.

Facebook noted that this won’t happen immediately. Starting in July, Facebook will no longer offer sponsored search results as an ad unit and by mid to late July, users will stop seeing sponsored search results.


Facebook officially supports hashtags

hashtag300-204Hashtags were rumored to be coming to Facebook earlier this year, but the site officially announced Wednesday that it has added support for the popular Twitter and Instagram staple. Now whenever a Facebook user puts a hashtag in their status update or comment, it connects it to others talking about the same thing.

For instance if you leave a comment on a post, something like “Go #Spurs!”, you can then click the #Spurs hashtag and see the discussion around the keyword on Facebook. This could be huge for Facebook’s Graph Search, which will now allow users to search by keyword.

Several users have reported that hashtags aren’t linked yet, so it appears that this is a gradual rollout by Facebook.


Facebook brings business object type to Open Graph

developer-iosLast week, Facebook updated open graph developer tools with the introduction of the business object for Open Graph. The feature will help convey local business information better in the news feed, Graph Search, Check-ins and Pages. Developers that have already found their own solutions for their businesses through Open Graph objects will still be able to use them, but Facebook encourages adopting this new object type going forward.

For developers that want to begin using this object type, this can be done by updating the object properties in the object type settings. Developers can also include additional properties for the object such as operating hours and contact data.

Simply put, this update will make it easier for local business discoverability. For example, in Graph Search, if a user were to search the phrase, “Restaurants in San Francisco my friends have visited”, Graph Search will be able to provide more accurate results. With more information from the business and accurate object types, users will be able to query search such as “Bakeries my friends have visited that are open on Sundays.”

Earlier this month, Facebook introduced Aciion Spec Targeting which allows advertisers to target users by the recency of their activity. By introducing a new local business object type, Facebook provides advertisers the ability to improve their targeting helping them create hyper-relevant ads. For example, an advertiser will be able to better target a person that has checked into the restaurant recently or made a purchase.

Facebook hires: linguist, search quality rater, privacy program manager and more

hiresFacebook removed 21 positions from its careers page this week, likely after making hires in the areas of search, user operations, infrastructure and marketing, among others.

The company appears to have hired a linguist to “assist with a variety of language projects, including extensions to Graph Search.” Another job listing removed this week as for an entity quality rater to “help assess the quality of Facebook’s search results for People, Pages, Games, etc.” These hires could help Facebook as it looks to ramp up its search efforts.

Prior listings removed from Facebook’s careers page:

  • Finance Manager (São Paulo)
  • Entity Quality Rater (Menlo Park)
  • Linguist (Menlo Park)
  • Privacy Program Manager (Menlo Park)
  • Law Enforcement Response Analyst (Dublin)
  • University Recruiter – Contractor (Menlo Park)
  • UX Researcher (Contractor) (Palo Alto)
  • Controls Engineer (Prineville)
  • Critical Facility Technician (Prineville)
  • Site Supervisor, Cabling Infrastructure (Forest City)
  • Sustainability Data Analyst (Menlo Park)
  • Mechanical Engineer (Menlo Park)
  • Content Writer, User Operations (Menlo Park)
  • Associate Writer, User Operations (Austin)
  • Team Lead, User Operations (Hyderabad) (Hyderabad)
  • Account Manager, ANZ (Sydney) (Sydney)
  • Account Manager, Retail (Menlo Park)
  • Strategic Partner Development – News/TV (New York)
  • Analyst, SMB Growth, Global Marketing Solutions (Austin)
  • Lead, Global Marketing Solutions – CPG (Menlo Park)
  • Lead, Global Marketing Solutions – Entertainment (Austin)

Who else is hiring? The Inside Network Job Board presents a survey of current openings at leading companies in the industry.

Guest Post: Search without Social is Incomplete

Bill-HankesThis is a guest post by Bill Hankes, a director at Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

The amount of data Facebook ingests every day is roughly equivalent to the total amount of Internet traffic at the height of the Internet bubble. Think about that. The amount of data back in 1998 was so immense that search technology couldn’t keep up, and a company called Google was founded to help people access this burgeoning corpus of information.

Interestingly, we face the same dilemma today with Facebook that users of the World Wide Web faced years ago. We know there’s a wealth of useful knowledge housed in social networks that we’d like to intelligently access, but the tools today are still relatively young.

The data created every day on social networks is just as important as any other content being published on the web. Maybe even more so because it’s from a source you may know or trust. Suppose your friend posted a photo using her new Olympus underwater camera on a recent scuba trip, or your foodie friend checked in on Facebook or Foursquare at the new local gastro-pub? How might that information influence your decisions or help you get something done? What are the implications for brands given the availability of social data in search?

What Graph Search needs to do

graph-searchFacebook’s Graph Search is a revolutionary new form of searching and finding information about ourselves, friends and the world.

The problem is it’s too much work.

Many have come away from trying Facebook’s new take on search unimpressed. They wonder how they’ll ever use it in their daily life. They don’t get satisfactory results when they do try a query.

This is largely because Graph Search puts the onus on users to ask clever questions if they want to get better answers. To a degree this is true with any search engine: using certain keywords and operators will help narrow down the results to be more relevant. But for most queries, users can find what they’re looking for even without advanced search features. With Graph Search, the value of the product is hardly apparent until users add more qualifiers, like the specific audience they want to search among or content type they’re looking for.

Google doesn’t require people to search for “highest ranked website about the NFL” or “article about the sequester by popular news sites.” Someone can type “NFL” or “sequester” and likely find what they want.

Now, Graph Search isn’t positioned as a replacement for Google. As CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the product launch, web search is about asking open-ended queries to return links that might have the answer to a question you might have. Graph Search is about precise queries and exact matches.

But in effect, this means users must come up with their own algorithms for what they’re looking for, whether it’s “movies my friends like,” “movies my friends of friends like,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like” or “movies liked by NYU Film students.” That can be difficult for people who don’t naturally think in precise queries.


Graph Search Optimization: The New SEO and What it Means for Social Advertisers

This is a guest post by Todd Herrold, senior director of product marketing at Kenshoo Social, a Facebook Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer with Facebook Exchange access.

Todd-Herrold-headshotFacebook introduced Graph Search in January signaling a major shift in social search. Graph Search matches natural language search terms with content from the searcher’s network (social graph) to identify and return relevant results based on several factors.

The volume of Facebook users alone could propel Graph Search to be the first true challenger to traditional Web search engines, but the announcement of this revolutionary search technology prompted a number of questions from social marketers including:

  • How will consumers respond/adapt to social search?
  • How does Facebook determine relevance?
  • What can we do to ensure our pages will appear in search results?
  • What advertising options exist in Graph Search?

Determining Relevance

To determine which pages are relevant to a search query, Facebook utilizes a natural language processor (both to suggest search terms and identify connections) combined with algorithms that examine the “nodes” or connections of a searcher’s network to find content friends have “liked” that match the search. Graph Search can also consider second-degree connections or friends of friends, as well as content which has been shared either directly with the searcher or publicly on Facebook.

Unlike standard search engines, Facebook owns all of the data (page posts, photos, videos, etc.) which has ever been posted to the network. This inherent advantage enabled Facebook to implement a unique indexing structure to categorize the data based on a number of predefined properties. This indexing of owned data allows Facebook to quickly search, sort, identify and return relevant content. They dubbed this infrastructure “Unicorn.” Similar to a standard search engine, it supports search queries including “multi-hop” queries in a series of steps while searching “nodes” in a similar style to the way a search engine utilizes keywords.

The results then get scored based on a number of criteria depending on the search terms. Facebook implemented all of this with the goal to “maximize searcher happiness.”

Graph Search Optimization (GSO)

When marketers initially started exploring how to boost their website ranking in search results they coined the term Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Graph Search spawned an analogous process of searching for answers on how to optimize content to ensure it appears in Graph Search results; think of it as Graph Search Optimization (GSO). While Facebook hasn’t revealed the exact formula it uses to determine Graph Searching of content (they did provide a look “under the hood” which marketers may find helpful), we can identify several factors which likely impact Graph Search rankings.

Facebook tests ad placements on Graph Search results page, not related to queries

ads logoFacebook began a small test today that inserts FBX and Marketplace ads between pages of Graph Search results, a spokesperson tells us. These ads are not targeted by a user’s search query.

Like the ads on the right hand column of Facebook.com and ads that appear in the lightbox view of photos, the ads on the Graph Search results page are targeted to an audience based on interests, demographics or data from the Facebook Exchange or Custom Audiences, for example. This test is simply one that opens new inventory, not a new ad type or targeting capability.

As seen below, two or three ads will appear horizontally between pagebreaks when there is more than one page of results. This happens only for Graph Searches, not for web searches where Bing results appear. Those pages have Bing ads at the top and to the right of organic results.

Ads on Graph Search Page v2

Facebook offers “Sponsored Results“ ads that allow advertisers to promote their business in the social network’s drop-down search results. Rather than broad keywords, advertisers bid against specific pages, apps or places. For now, there is no way to bid on a Graph Search query such as “movies my friends like” or “restaurants nearby.”

Facebook calls out ‘Local Search’ on iOS

placesFacebook has renamed its Nearby feature on iOS “Local Search,” making its function more obvious and possibly increasing the number of users who will try it.

For now, the tab is still called Nearby on Facebook’s mobile site and Android app.

The social network relaunched Nearby on mobile as a local search product in December 2012. Previously it was a feature to see friends’ check-ins. Now its seeking to be a Yelp competitor, allowing users to search for specific places, browse categories or see broadly what’s around them, organized by their friend’s recommendations, check-ins and other social cues, such as star ratings. Users can see a place’s business hours, description and price range, as well as options to get directions, call the business, check-in, Like the page or visit the business’ Timeline.

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