The latest Facebook tool, Graph Search, promises to help users find people who share the same interests, explore their social worlds through photos, and discover music, restaurants, and more. Because Facebook is perhaps the largest public-use big data application, Graph Search has the potential to be incredibly informative. But, like most big data applications, its practical use seems to deliver more value to businesses rather than the individual user. Here are a few ways to use Graph Search to empower your business.

Optimize Your Business for Graph Search

Just like optimizing for web search, there are a number of ways that businesses can optimize their Facebook profiles to increase Graph Search visibility. Here are a few ways to optimize your Facebook Page for Graph Search:

1. Select Business Categories

Don't miss out on appearing in business categories. This will add context to your business and help your organization appear in categorical searches. Select appropriate business categories and up to three sub-categories.

2. Claim Your Place Page

Claiming your Place page will encourage check-ins, which improve user engagement.

3. Complete Your Page Profile

No more excuses for not completing your Page profile! Make sure to use keywords and relevant content in your About section.

4. Share Great Content

This is more important than ever, considering that modern search algorithms only deliver fresh and engaging content.

Download the Facebook Graph Search Cheat Sheet for the complete checklist and information.

Practical Uses Today: Persona Modeling

How are businesses using the power of big data behind the Facebook Graph Search today? To find out, I tapped the intelligence of a fellow search and social media expert, Muhammad Yasin of HCC Medical Insurance Services. He uses Graph Search for modeling marketing personas on the world's largest social network.

Yasin starts this process by searching for individuals with characteristics found in the highest-value customers, which can be plugged directly into the Graph Search interface. Then, he uses the extended search feature to show a list of more Pages users Like. After looking beyond the first couple pages of extremely general page likes (like Coca-Cola and Justin Bieber), Yasin can gain extremely interesting insights about his customer base. Brands will learn that all of this information comes at the price of a little bit of smart work, but it's much less costly than focus group research! The insights you can get from Graph Search can be used in future marketing campaigns or simply to add knowledge about your most valuable customer base.

The potential of the largest public-facing big data application hasn't been realized yet. Most of its value now seems to be centered around marketing, which falls in line with all of the traditional channels of monetization for Facebook. Will users adopt Graph Search as a daily-use search tool? Will Graph Search pose a real threat to traditional web search engines? We'll know more once Graph Search is out of beta and released to the entire Facebook community.