Last week, Brafton reported that Facebook had tested a "New Pages Discovery" tool that users liked, but the company had killed the feature quickly after introducing it. Marketers may rejoice that the social network has now launched an official version of the brand-finding tool, called "Discover Facebook Pages."
The company announced the new feature today in the Facebook blog. Users can access the Page Browser after they log in to their accounts and then use it to discover brands they may like based on their interests and their friends' likes.
The Discover Facebook Pages feature offers a "friends similar to you" tab that ranks users' friends based on mutual likes and gives them the option to see a list of the pages "liked" by these connections. The tool breaks down pages by industries, including sports, movies, media and games. It also has a page category specifically for brands.
It's a little unclear how Facebook is ranking the brands featured on the Page Browser. At press time, brands featured on the first page included the likes of Twilight, VH1, Hot Topic and I Love Being Black. The results were the same for different users, but they appeared in a slightly different order.
Facebook says the feature will "continue to evolve" with consumer feedback. But marketers should be pleased that – at its core – this is a discovery tool, aimed to help consumers find pages on Facebook they may not have learned about otherwise. It brings the social site one step closer to offering users an internal search option. In fact, Facebook designer Ben Blumenfeld, explains that the inspiration came when he was conducting an online search for movies. "I thought, 'People should really be able to do this with Pages on Facebook!'" he writes in the company's blog.
The Page Browser may ultimately rank brands listed according to likes, which means businesses that gain fans will garner even more exposure. Beyond Facebook's internal brand discovery mechanism, Facebook mentions are becoming increasingly important in search engine results.
Brafton recently reported on Bing Social, which culls Facebook comments in its organic results, and TheFind.com, which requires searchers to log in through Facebook and offers relevant search results based on their "likes." While search giant Google does not currently use Facebook data to determine its search results, CEO Eric Schmidt has indicated that he, too, is interested in accessing the social information provided on the network. Marketers take note – like-based results may be the next generation of search.