What Facebook Graph Search Means for Your Business

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Posted: April 26, 2013 | B2B Marketing, Social Media

Anyone who is active on Facebook knows that search has never been one of Facebook’s strong points. You can find friends if you know how to spell their name. You can find company brand pages if you know what you’re looking for. But what if you want to find a list of all of your friends who are connected to a specific company, product or place? You couldn’t until now.

Enter Graph Search

Graph search is Facebook’s social solution for connected search. It is a search algorithm that delivers results based on connecting the dots in the mountains of data Facebook has collected from its billion users. Results are served up based on relevancy and relationship rather than keywords.

So what does this mean for your Facebook brand page? It means it’s time for businesses to get social, and I do mean social. Stop broadcasting and start engaging. Relevancy is key and engagement is crucial.

Likes Matter

Yes, you heard me, Likes matter. I know, I know, my mantra used to be “Likes aren’t Loves,” but my new mantra is “Likes make you relevant,” which is just one of the important pillars in the Graph Search algorithm.

Case in point, earlier this year I was debating on buying a GoPro camera for my Spring Break vacation with my kids, and the first thing I did was turn to Facebook and search for “friends who like GoPro”. Turns out that 21 of my Facebook friends Like the GoPro brand page so I went directly to them to ask for a product review. And if I wanted to take the search even further I could have searched for “friends of friends who like GoPro,” or even “people who like GoPro.”

Graph Search Rewards Relevancy

But Likes aren’t the only thing that will bring you up in my search results. According to Facebook, Graph Search rewards relevancy, which can be determined by my personal connection with, physical proximity to, and level of engagement with what I’m searching for. If I search for “coffee” I should not get the same results that you do, and that’s the point. My results should be stacked based on:

  • Coffee pages that have the most Likes
  • Coffee pages I have Liked
  • Coffee pages I have engaged with (i.e. commented on a post on their page)
  • Coffee companies or shops located near me
  • Coffee pages or coffee-related brands that my friends and friends-of-friends Like

I wanted to test this theory so I did a small experiment with a handful of friends and colleagues who have the Facebook Graph Search Beta enabled. We all entered the following search strings into Graph Search and then compared results:

  • “Coffee”
  • “Coffee shops my friends like”
  • “Coffee shops near me”
  • “Stumptown Coffee in Portland”

The search for “Coffee shops my friends like,” and “Coffee shops near me” were predictable and accurate. The search for “Stumptown Coffee in Portland” returned results for Stumptown Coffee shops and places that served Stumptown Coffee, which is what I would expect. However, the search results seemed a bit random for the generic “coffee” search in that my top search result was actually a person in Missouri using her brand page for her coffee business. Plus I have no connection to her, her friends, or Missouri! So, the algorithm still needs a little work, but that’s why it’s still in Beta.

Targeted Advertising

Graph Search will be a gold mine for targeted Facebook ads and sponsored search results, especially for local businesses. Facebook has not released much information yet on what kinds of advertising opportunities will be offered, but based on some tests I did I can tell you that I was served a few “Sponsored Results” and some small ads inserted between search results.

Graph Search Optimization (GSO)

I know what you’re thinking. Where do I start? The good news is that Graph Search is still in Beta so you have some time to get your arms around how to optimize your brand pages to maximize your appearance in search results.

It’s difficult to predict how the algorithm will change over the next few months, but for now I can offer you these tips.

  • Provide quality content that is relevant to your target audience.
  • Drive engagement by posting high resolution images or videos with questions to your Facebook wall (questions and images drive engagement)
  • Increase Likes by “Like Gating” valuable content and contests on app pages
  • If you are a global or national brand with local outlets claim your local “Locations” and encourage brand fans to check in.
  • Encourage local outlets to create their own local pages in order to show up in the searches for “…near me.”

Personally, I love the new Graph Search. I’m very active on Facebook so it’s likely that search results served to me will be highly accurate and targeted to who I am on Facebook. But therein lies the rub. The “Facebook Me” is the silver lining of the real me. She only Likes brand pages that she’s willing to be public about, she doesn’t post status updates about things she wouldn’t mind publicly declaring on the front page of the New York Times, and she speaks in third person.

To sign up for access to Graph Search Beta, you can join the waiting list here.

Related Resources

  • http://twitter.com/velitdundar Velit Dundar

    Thanks for the great tips, Kelly!

    Graph Search is still in its infancy and we are going to see loads of changes in its algorithm, search results and presentation of these results as data is being produced on the platform is only going to get bigger and bigger. This also offers the opportunity to social media marketers and strategists to test the landscape by developing a search and content strategy in a social context. At the end of the day, it’s the relevancy, timely, valuable and interesting content will get most of the likes and referrals. But to really benefit from it we need to think beyond ‘likes’ by incorporating social search with the overall business strategy. It’s great time to start developing a social search strategy now…

  • http://twitter.com/AdrianKnoll Adrian Knoll

    So, basically the only real different, for now, is that amount of Likes of the page will have more influence on a page’s ranking. Did I get it right?
    Because the engagement and content part should have been on businesses’ marketing plan a long time ago for different reasons….

  • https://plus.google.com/u/0/111227029271273572648/about David Palic

    With results based on relevancy and relationship, the ability for brands to connect with consumers in more personalized ways has never been more apparent or important. Those who deliver localized, relevant content and serve extremely targeted ads will be the the early winners in this space. With Facebook’s increased emphasis on mobile, it’s no surprise this is their first step towards geo-targeted, real time offers. Overall, it is a call for brands to start optimizing their social presence, both on-site and off-site. On-site social tools are being utilized by many Top 500 retailers and can have a tremendous impact on conversion rates and revenue. Social Annex offers over 20 of them: http://bit.ly/109LGRJ

  • http://twitter.com/KellyJoHorton Kelly Jo Horton

    This is interesting because that corporate coffee shop you’re referring to didn’t show up in any of my search results and there are at least five of them within a 3-block radius of me. But that just tells me they probably don’t have any local pages set up.

    The usefulness of Graph Search is pretty limited right now, so we’ll just have to watch and see what happens.

    The link to your results gave me a 404 error.

Kelly Jo works as a principal consultant at Marketo, focusing on social media and inbound marketing optimization. Kelly is a speaker, blogger, and 2010 Emmy winner for outstanding achievement in Engineering Development, Showtime Sports Interactive.

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