Picture 11 With its latest move, Facebook alienates millions but potentially aids businesses.Millions of people who have logged in to Facebook recently have been met with a privacy message which has probably left a lot of them feeling very confused about what Facebook is trying to keep private anymore. Users were given the choice of making their profile more public than ever – including their status updates and wall posts.

In a move which looks like a direct result of both wanting to get more Twitter-like functionality and also part of the Google live search implementation which is gradually being rolled out, Facebook has risked the wrath of its users but at the same time potentially opened up a world of increased visibility of their business.

Google live search is a new development which shows feeds featuring the seach terms in its search results in real time. The most common feeds are clearly Twitter with Tweet trends automatically pulling ahead in the results, but it will not be long before there are far more elements being fed in which is likely to increase the importance of being no.1 on your search result page, but potentially allows you to compete by merely saying the right thing at the right time.

The jury is still out about how Google selects and ranks items in the live search, and this is something which will be the discussion point for millions of SEO consultants for some time to come – and no doubt Google will change it’s algorithm a few times in the next month. But for businesses, unlike individual Facebook users, this may be a golden opportunity to ride the social media phenomenon like never before.

Using Facebook and Twitter to promote your business through Google

In an article I wrote recently, I discussed the importance of search and as part of this, being found is critical. Traditionally there has been a challenge to get your page to successfully compete with the long established results at the top of the search page. Google live search, Twitter and Facebook combined gives you the chance of getting high on that list by saying something interesting about a popular search term and therefore being part of this live feed.

This has several benefits if you can get the elements of your message correct. Firstly, it positions you as being authoritative on a subject area. Secondly it means people can find your brand amongst the endless pages vying to be no.1 but in a way which is not just down to the search engines themselves. Your Twitter and Facebook fans pages allow you to make the business more human. You can use yourself or your brand as a vehicle and make it more interactive and accessible.

By getting people to follow you or become fans of your pages, you automatically get an opt-in to communicate on a more regular basis with your inciteful comments and maybe even promotions… suddenly you’re not talking about search results pages in the same way, people have found you and are telling you they want to listen.

This doesn’t mean you can drop your guard and bombard people with messages, but what it does mean is that you can begin to build brand loyalty – maybe even before someone purchases. If one person passes on that message, you then start to develop a chain of recommendation which acts as word of mouth marketing which – as we all know – is many times more powerful than any marketing we can create ourselves.

The future?

It’s still very much early days for social networking in general – and arguably how we find things, however there is a clear opportunity to reach your audience where they want to find things in ways which haven’t been possible before. One thing I’m sure of is that this privacy change in Facebook is a pain for me as an individual, but actually from a business and marketing point of view, it might be a real way to reap the rewards of social networking. Watch this space, because it will definitely get more interesting.