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How Facebook's Graph Search Could Help Businesses

Facebook's major new feature, YouTube's rising competition, the end of LinkedIn Answers and more social-media news.
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This week's need-to-know social-media news.

This week, Facebook unveiled a major new feature: Graph Search. Designed to be a discovery engine for your "social graph" -- the network of friends and brands you "like" on Facebook -- Graph Search allows you to parse your personal network and address messages to a select number of people based on specific criteria.

Currently Graph Search is available in beta to a very limited number of users. You can sign up for the mailing list and be notified when you're able to use it. By the time Graph Search is available to all users, it's possible that brands will have the ability to single out both their most engaged followers and potential fans and target them for special deals, promotions and other offers.

Only time will tell whether Graph Search raises Facebook's stock price, shakes up its competitors or irritates privacy activists. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg sees it as a move in the right direction toward fulfilling Facebook's mission. "Exploring your community is a core human need, and this is the first big step we're taking in that direction," Zuckerberg said.

YouTube's share of the social video market is declining.
Pretty soon YouTube may not be the best place for your video content and advertisements. From June to November 2012, YouTube lost six billion monthly views while the rest of the video websites gained a total of 13 billion. New video services are sprouting up, user-generated video content is pouring onto the internet from all over the world and all that remains is for a new, Spotify-type leader to emerge. Keep your eyes peeled. --

LinkedIn Answers are going away.
On Jan. 31, LinkedIn will be closing LinkedIn Answers, a competitor to popular question-and-answer platform Quora. Apparently LinkedIn Answers did not meet the social network's target for engagement. "Members can still pose questions and facilitate professional discussions through other popular LinkedIn channels including LinkedIn Polls, Groups, or status update," a LinkedIn representative said in a statement. --

Enjoy free phone calls through Facebook.
Burning up cell-phone minutes talking to everyone about your new startup? Facebook has come to your rescue: Now you can place calls through the social network's Messenger app. The person you're calling will receive a Messenger push notification giving her the option to accept or deny the call. --

Michelle Obama has joined Twitter.
The First Lady of the United States -- or at least her staff -- has joined Twitter again. Mrs. Obama's previous Twitter account, @MichelleObama, which was created a year ago and run by the president's re-election campaign, was shuttered in favor of the new account, @FLOTUS, [] which will be managed by the Democratic National Committee. No word yet on how much Mrs. Obama might be tweeting herself, but when she does, her tweets will be signed "-mo." --