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Facebook Introduces Graph Search, Yelp Introduces Health Scores … And Other Hot Topics

For some reason, I think we’ll be talking about this week in marketing news for quite some time.

As you may have heard, Facebook rolled out a brand new search engine this week. Graph Search, as it has been called, is expected to be the “third pillar” of Facebook (next to Timeline and Newsfeed) and could be a game changer for small businesses on social media.

But it wasn’t the only news this week.

After weeks of rumors that users had turned their backs on Instagram, the social photo-sharing company marked a new milestone—40 million monthly users.

And if Graph Search wasn’t enough, Facebook quietly rolled out another small change that could help Pages attract a new type of engagement.

Read about these top stories and find out why Yelp decided to post health inspection data for restaurants in two major cities in this week’s marketing news roundup.

1. Facebook introduces Graph Search

This week, Facebook revealed one of its biggest innovations since the introduction of Timeline: Graph Search. Graph Search is a friend-based search engine that will soon be integrated with Facebook’s current search bar on all user accounts. Unlike traditional search engines, Graph Search generates results based on the recommendations and activity of a user’s Facebook social connections.

Here’s how Facebook’s Graph Search works:

“The search bar first returns the top search suggestions, including people, Pages, apps, places, groups, and suggested searches. People can search for things like restaurants near them, hotels in places they want to travel to, photos posted by Pages they like, or games that their friends like to play.”

Graph Search is currently only available to a select group of Facebook users but is expected to roll out to everyone in the coming weeks.

Bottom Line: Graph Search can make it easier for people to discover and learn more about your business – but only if your business is on Facebook. The bottom-line is if your business is not on Facebook yet it should be.

Earlier this week, Constant Contact Social Media Specialist Danielle Cormier offered what small businesses can do today to take advantage of Graph Search:

1. Make sure your Facebook Business Page is complete and up-to-date.

2. If you have a location or a local place Facebook Business Page, update your address to make sure you can appear as a result when someone is searching for a specific location.

3. Be sure your Facebook Business Page has the correct category.

4. Begin to ask people to check-in at your business on Facebook.

Read more about Facebook’s Graph Search.

2. Yelp begins sharing health inspection scores for restaurants in San Francisco and New York

Yelp revealed this week that it will now share health inspection data for dining establishments in San Francisco and New York City.

The new “Health Scores” are part of a partnership between Yelp and city officials to allow municipalities to publish restaurant inspection information on the popular online review site.

The program—known as LIVES (Local Inspector Value-Entry Specifications)—is currently only available for businesses in these two cities but could roll out to other major cities in the future.

Bottom Line: Health Scores introduce a completely new element to the Yelp experience. It is the first time the site has looked outside of user generated reviews to inform their audience’s purchasing decisions and could set a new precedent for the site.

This is something that all restaurant owners—especially those in major cities—will need to keep an eye on.

3. Instagram reports 90M monthly active users, 40M photos per day and 8,500 likes per second

Instagram reported record numbers this week, revealing that monthly active usership had surpassed 90 million people for the first time.

Instagram also reported that users are now sharing photos at a rate of 40 million per day. These photos are generating 8,500 likes and 1,000 comments per second.

Bottom Line: Instagram did not start 2013 off on the right foot. After upsetting its userbase with proposed changes to its Terms of Service at the end of December, it was reported that daily active use had dipped by 25% leading into the new year.

Looking at these recent numbers, it’s apparent that rumors of Instagram’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. Instagram is still in the early stages of its development and while it’s unlikely to sustain the type of growth it has seen over the last year, it does have plenty room to grow in 2013.

Find out how you can use Instagram to promote your small business.

4. Facebook looks to increase user engagement with larger images and longer link previews

One of Facebook’s less-publicized updates this week was an update to how links are displayed in user newsfeeds.

With the update, links will now display a larger image and a longer link preview. According to Facebook, the purpose of the update is to make links more visually-appealing in the newsfeed.

The update has not yet rolled out to all Facebook users but is expected to in the coming weeks.

Bottom Line: While it may seem like a small adjustment, making links more visual could make a big difference when it comes to getting more engagement in the newsfeeds of your fans.

Facebook itself has reported that images are already generating 120% more engagement than text-only posts. On the Constant Contact Facebook Page, for example, images typically generate 40% more shares and nearly 30% more likes than other types of posts.

A more visual presentation could help boost link engagement. That means more traffic to your website, more readers on your blog, and a wider audience for your email newsletters.

This is another reason why creating content that will engage and inform your audience when they click-through is more important than ever.

5. An update on Google AuthorRank

If you didn’t have a chance to read last week’s edition of the weekly marketing news roundup, Google AuthorRank was one of the hottest topics of the week.

The new search algorithm being introduced by Google could have a big impact on content creators, because with AuthorRank, the reputation and authority of the author publishing a particular piece of content will matter more than ever before.

Because this is such a hot topic, this week we put together three posts that will help your business prepare for the upcoming changes:

Ask an Expert: What Small Businesses Need to Know About Google AuthorRank

This week, I sat down with Constant Contact Search Marketing Manager, Peter Hughes to learn more about AuthorRank and what it could mean for your business.

Do You Write a Blog? Here’s Why You Must Set Up Google Authorship Now (And How to Do It)

Google Authorship essentially links the content you publish on your blog to your Google+ profile. This link between the author and the content they create will eventually have a bigger impact on search results when Google introduces its AuthorRank  algorithm later this year. Learn how to set up Google Authorship.

What is Google AuthorRank and Why Should You Care?

Find out how AuthorRank could level the playing field for small businesses when it comes to creating content online. 

What news stories caught your eye this week? Let us know in the comments below. 

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