Will Facebook’s New Graph Search Live Up to the Hype?

Social Media Marketing


Last week, Facebook introduced a big update: A hugely expanded, highly customizable search function. Facebook’s “Graph Search” feature has been around for a while (we covered the initial roll-out last April), but the update allows users to search status updates, photo captions, check-ins, and comments by geographic location, place, network, or period of time.

When Facebook first announced Graph Search, they said that it would become their “third pillar,” matching Facebook’s Timeline and News Feed in relevance and utility. Although the new features aren’t available to all users (yet), last week’s upgrade is the first sign that Graph Search might live up to the hype.

In fact, Graph Search might have a real impact on your marketing efforts.

Wondering how? Facebook’s Graph Search can help you:

  • Identify your advocates
  • Coordinate events
  • Extend your social reach

Here’s a breakdown of Graph Search’s features, and an overview of their uses:

Search for Photos

You can now can search for photos tagged with specific places (like names of organizations) to zero in on influencers in your industry, or event attendees. Let’s say that your company attended a conference last month, and now you want to view the most socially engaged attendees.

First, search for photos taken at the conference:

cmw facebook search 1

As long as the posters were tagging their locations, Graph Search can now easily find them:

cmw facebook search

You can see who took the photos and who was tagged in those photos. Best of all, you can join the conversation with a “like” or a comment.

Smart marketers already encourage their community members to tag relevant posts with their location, but the new Graph Search feature will make that data much easier to access and use. This means that location-based tags on photos, updates, and check-ins will become even more important. It’s already becoming more common. As of September, the Pew Research Center found that more social media users are now including locations in their posts (30% of social media users older than 18, versus 14% in 2011).

Refine Audience Searches

With Graph Search, marketers can search their networks by geographic region, relationships, or interests. If you’re an organization with a lot of Facebook friends, you might want to check out all of the friends in your area – maybe you’d like to invite them to a local event. Alternately, you might use geographic searches to discover which areas have very few followers – these might be cities that need some extra love.

my friends in san francisco graph search

You can use the relationship based search to build your network and expand your reach – maybe you want to reach out to the friends of a particular influencer, or friends of friends in general. You can simultaneously narrow your findings by over 30 search criteria, ranging from job title to college network to marital status.

Maybe you want to find people in your area who like your company, but aren’t connections yet. The interest based search will come in handy here. Simply search outside of your connections by interest:

non-friends who like marketo

Status Update and Post Searches

This feature is only available to a select group of users, but if all goes well, Facebook will allow all users to search for status updates made from certain locations, about certain topics, during certain time periods, by certain segments of your network, or all of the above. There’s no release date yet, but Facebook did provide a teaser of what this feature will look like, in action.

Here’s a place-based search for posts from the White House:

posts written at the whitehouse

Here’s a subject and relationship-based search for posts:

posts about dancing with the stars

Refined searches of posts and updates should give marketers all of the same benefits that refined photo searches already provide, in both event marketing and social. If you could search for every status update or post mentioning your brand, you could easily find (and thank!) your best customer advocates. You also might uncover brand detractors, and use the opportunity to address customer complaints. After an event, you could use the search to read and respond to feedback, or to gather photos for future promotions.

Have you had the chance to experiment with Facebook’s new Graph Search? Are your expectations high, or do you think Graph Search is nothing but hype?