(MoneyWatch) Changes are afoot over at everyone's favorite social network, Facebook. By now, you've probably heard about Graph Search, even if you don't yet have access to it. The good news is that if you have a business, Graph Search delivers a bevy of new ways to analyze and act on data about your customers. If you're just a Facebook user, you can also exploit this new tool, while also learning how it exposes even more of your private information.
First of all, if you're not already using Graph Search, you'll want to get it. That's easy -- Facebook has a page where you can request access. It might take a few days, but you'll soon get a message inviting you to turn on the new search bar at the top of Facebook. From there, you can take a short tutorial and start making natural language searches that help you correlate and synthesize previously discrete data points about people all across Facebook.
So what are some things you can do with Graph Search? Here are some powerful searches you can perform today:
Learn about co-workers at your company, or get information about people who work at a partner or competitive company. Just ask Graph Search "People who work at [name of company]." Graph Search will helpfully offer suggestions of companies it knows about.
Find out who is friends with two different people. You can quickly find out people who have Facebook friends in common -- just type "People who are friends with [person A] and [person B]"
Discover demographic information about customers. There are a virtually limitless number of queries you can feed Graph Search to learn about your customers. For example, you can go with a generic search, like "things that have been liked by fans of Microsoft," or go for a more targeted search, like "Music that is liked by fans of Demand Media."
Get a list of all the places someone has visited. Thanks to Facebook's check-in service, you can see in surprising detail all the places that specific people -- or groups of people have gone. Try "Places that [person] have been," or "Places that fans of [company] have been" for that sort of detail. You can also use the map tool to refine the search; you can narrow it down just to restaurants, for example.
for more features.