With over 1.5 billion active monthly users and a feature-rich platform, Facebook has continued to be a dominant part of the social networking landscape since its founding in 2004. All this activity has also attracted the attention of businesses big and small which have been trying to figure out how to capitalize on the social network’s user appeal and reach.

But the use of Facebook as a business marketing and customer relationship channel has been rocky at best. Over the past few years in particular, businesses have had to deal with significant changes to Facebook’s features, design, content algorithm and streaming. Most business users have seen their organic reach plummet, and this has been happening while they are simultaneously being encouraged by the social network to invest in Facebook’s advertising platform. Frustration over the lack of ROI and cries of foul play have caused many businesses to simply abandon the platform.

But, before you close the doors on your Facebook presence, you may want to think again. Facebook still offers lot of real potential for business marketing. The only catch: you have to dig a little to get at the information that will be the most helpful to your marketing promotional efforts.

The biggest opportunity lies in being able to access important information about your Facebook fans well as the fans of your competitors that you can use in your marketing campaigns and product or service development.

Facebook recently announced the creation of a search platform that makes all the public posts it has indexed (now a staggering 2+ trillion) more easily available. Dubbed Facebook Search FYI, the new feature allows you to search through users and posts and even get real-time information regarding what is happening in the world.

What You Can Do With Facebook Search FYI

Why is this important? For one, Facebook’s updated search feature allows you to:

– Identify your own fans

– Learn about their interests and likes

– Identify employees of a business who have liked a business’s Facebook Page

– Identify interests of competitors’ fans

– Identify potential business partnerships

This also means that all public posts will gain more visibility since they now appear in Facebook search results, and this happens in real time while the discussion is happening. It’s kind of like a screen shot of a Twitter stream.

So if you can post about a big story, event, or popular product or service that your current and potential customers are talking about, then your post will be included in the results. Just make sure your privacy settings for the post is set to “public.”

Another benefit is that you can now see what people are saying about your business even if the people making the comments are not part of your fan base.

Bottom line: Facebook isn’t going anywhere any time soon, and neither is its potential to help small businesses focus and refine their marketing efforts.