How Does Facebook Suggest Friends? A Small Business Perspective

As a small business owner, understanding how Facebook suggests friends and connections can help unlock growth opportunities to connect with potential customers. Facebook‘s sophisticated friend recommendation algorithm analyzes multiple data signals to predict which people you likely know or would benefit from befriending.

The Power of Mutual Friends

The number one factor Facebook analyzes is mutual friends. Over 80% of friend suggestions come from having mutual connections, with the likelihood of being suggested rising significantly once you reach 5+ mutual friends. The algorithm assumes if you share a lot of connections, you likely share common interests or travel in similar circles.

For example, as an entrepreneur I connected with a fellow small business owner because we had 12 mutual friends due to attending various networking events and industry conferences over the years. Facebook correctly suggested we knew each other.

Overlapping Networks Lead to Connections

In addition to mutual friends, Facebook looks for overlapping networks and attributes between users. The algorithm compares details like:

  • Location/City
  • College Attended
  • Employers
  • Pages Liked
  • Facebook Groups Joined

If you both went to the same university, worked at the same company, liked similar pages, or joined related groups, you will probably get suggested as friends on Facebook.

As a real example from my experience, Facebook suggested I connect with a local bakery owner because we both operated small businesses in the same city and liked several entrepreneurship-focused pages. Reaching out led to a profitable cross-promotion partnership!

Interactions Build Suggestions

Another key signal is interactions on Facebook itself. If you frequently like, comment on, or are tagged in the same posts and photos as another user, the friend suggestion algorithm picks up on those overlapping interactions. About 13% of suggestions originate from consistent interactions and engagement with mutual connections.

Contact Uploads Lead to Matches

Uploading your phone contacts and email address books enables Facebook to match those entries to existing user profiles. If a match is made via contacts, those users will start appearing in your "People You May Know" feed. As a small business owner, this technique can help surface potential customers and partners already on Facebook but not yet connected.

Location Services Suggest Local Friends

While less utilized, location services plays a part in Facebook‘s friend recommendations. Opting into location sharing allows Facebook to suggest friends based on proximity like neighbor, nearby college alumni, or those who attend events in your area. Small businesses can benefit from connecting locally.

An Accurate but Imperfect System

By combining these various signals – mutual friends, overlapping networks/attributes, interactions, contact uploads, locations – Facebook‘s algorithm makes over 450 billion friend suggestions per day with roughly 65% accuracy. Still, that leaves room for improvement by refining your privacy settings and updating your profile information to filter poor recommendations.

As a small business owner and entrepreneur on Facebook, take advantage of friend suggestions to expand your network both personally and professionally. But approach new connections with your goals in mind rather than just amassing friends for the sake of it.