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The New Facebook Search: Good Or Bad For Your Brand?

In a move that some have termed “a challenge to Google,” Facebook announced last week that with its “Search FYI” updated functionality, users of the platform will now see expanded search results:
  • Content others have posted and marked “Public”
  • Content you’ve already seen
  • Content that’s already been shared with you
For individuals seeking to maximize their personal brand this raises a troubling concern: Will all of my old, embarrassing, inadvertently public posts now come back to haunt me? The answer to that question is not as simple as one might think.
  • If you’ve been inadvertently marking “private” content as “public,” then yes it’s time to go back and change yourprivacy settings or even deactivate your account altogether, if you’re very concerned. This is especially true if you are concerned about an employer (or potential employer) checking you out online.
  • If you are comfortable with your social media presence, you may prefer to consider the benefits of authenticity, and “own” your content rather than try to filter out potentially embarrassing previous comments, photos, or shares. The self-censorship may be more trouble to you than it is worth.
  • If you’re not sure what to do, a middle-of-the-road solution could be to limit the viewability of past posts so that only your friends can see them, and they’re excluded from the search function. (Here’s Gizmodo’s primer.)
For companies doing content market there are two key issues to consider.
  • Will content created specifically to move product automatically reach more potential buyers? It’s not clear. AsCyberAlert points out: “Brands will probably find that deciphering the network’s algorithm and reaching consumers will be challenging. The network’s opaque algorithms that determine what users see in their news feeds already frustrate many brands that do content marketing on Facebook.”
  • Will the creators of viral content be required to pay for search results to show up in users’ news feeds?  Although we don’t know yet, the answer is “likely yes.” Writing at the eConsultancy blog, Patricio Robles notes: “After all, Facebook needs to make money, and free lunches come to an end, even in social media….what Facebook giveth, Facebook can taketh away.”
At the end of the day, the fundamental rules of social haven’t changed at all: Number one, be yourself and number two, content is king. But at the same time, the rules of branding haven’t changed either: Know your audience, make a clear, relevant and unique promise to them that you can keep, and deliver consistently across platforms.
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All opinions are the author’s own. 

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