Facebook recently launched graph search, which has the potential to open up new possibilities for brands marketing and communicating with customers on Facebook. I wanted to take a quick moment to share my thoughts on Graph search and the implications for businesses.
What is Facebook Graph Search?
Facebook graph search allows users to search for things on Facebook within the context of their friends and friends of friends. For example, I could search for:
- Friends in Cincinnati who like cycling
- Restaurants in New York that my friends like
- Friends who live in San Francisco and like social media marketing
- Bars in Cincinnati that my friends like
- My friends who also like the band 311
The graph search results are limited to “friends” and “friends of friends”, which means that you aren’t seeing results broadly for everyone on Facebook, you are seeing results within your friend network.
What Are The Implications for Marketers?
About 6 months ago Facebook changed their edgerank algorithm with reduced the visibility that most brand pages were getting on Facebook. This meant that fewer of your fans were seeing your posts, and this change made some brands question the relevance of their Facebook marketing strategies.
With Facebook graph search, Facebook is now more important for brands.
- Likes Matter More – If my search is limited to things that people in my network have liked, it REALLY MATTERS that my customers and fans have liked my page. If they go to my business but haven’t liked it or checkedin, it won’t show up in graph search. Encourage customers to like your business and checkin on Facebook.
- CheckIns Matter – The search below is for “restaurants my friends have been to” – this is determined by check-ins. Have a strategy to ask customers to check-in on Facebook.
- Ratings Matter – You can see that for restaurants the ratings are shown beside the listing. Your Facebook ratings matter – build a strategy to grow positive ratings and reviews.
- Think SEO – Think about optimizing your Facebook business page for these searches – use keywords and make sure that all of your information is accurate.
- The Social Graph Matters – This means that how we are connected and who we are connected to matters. Those with a larger social footprint can make a bigger impact. For example, if I have 2,000 friends and Bob only has 100 friends, if I like your business I can get you more exposure than Bob can in social graph searches.
Which Brands Should Really Pay Attention to This?
The top brands and businesses that should pay attention to graph search are businesses that are local and those that are recommendation driven.
Local businesses, where people go into your place of business, are the most natural fits for graph searches. Since people are physically entering your place of business, they are strong targets to “like” your facebook page. Most local businesses are also very social naturally – people like to talk about their experiences.
The second is recommendation driven businesses. If people often ask their friends for recommendations about your category, graph search will be important for you. For example, rather than asking my friends “Can anyone recommend a good dentist” I can do a graph search to see the dentists that are most liked by my friends. Anything where people ask their friends – local businesses, high involvement purchases, etc will be good for graph search.
Will It Catch On? Will People Actually Use Graph Search This Way?
People often step back and say “will people actually use graph search” – otherwise, it isn’t really meaningful, and you can ignore this entire post.
Here is the think – Google launched a product called Google Plus Your World that customized search results based on your Google+ network. Bing has a similar product. If the search giants are building these capabilities (and they have tremendous amounts of data about people and their online behaviors), it seems that there is something to it.
I don’t have a crystal ball, but given the amount of emphasis all of the online giants have placed on this concept, I would say they are on to something…..