In the recent past Internet businesses relied on Links to gain rankings. In the Facebook ecosystem, “Likes” replaces links. According to a report in Forbes about Facebook’s new social search, what business or product a friend likes is going to play a role in the ranking algorithim of Facebook’s new search function. This means that obtaining Facebook “likes” is going to become more important than ever, because there is now going to be more dollar amounts associated with Facebook search results.
…people have been saying that there must be more to search than key words and page links… For the first time, a person’s relationship to a piece of information is going to help determine how relevant that information is… The new product lets Facebook users search in real time for information based on its association with other people.
Acquiring “Likes” is, at this moment, going to be the landrush for gaining higher rankings in Facebook Social Search. A recommendation from a friend is more powerful than a recommendation from a black box algorithm. Facebook Search has the potential to become a useful tool for users and a profitable utility for businesses because there is no recommendation more powerful than one that originates from a friend. Thus, acquiring more likes becomes more important. Facebook members with larger social connections have the potential to wield more influence. Thus, obtaining likes from Facebook members with a high amount Facebook Rank may be a way to influence the Facebook Search results. The report in the NYTimes seems to have anticipated this:
Brace yourself for a future of “like” bribery, “like” gaming and “like” spam. If you are an influential person, expect the perks to start rolling in. Because, as we all know, some “likes” are worth more than others.
And if the NYTimes anticipated it, then it’s possible that Facebook did, too. Expect the first few iterations of Facebook Search to be easier to influence than later versions, possibly six months to a year out from now. As history has shown, search results improve in reaction to the attempts of businesses to influence them. So the algorithmic updates for the next year will likely be reactive, not proactive as is the case in a mature system as Google and Bing.