Facebook Graph Search : 7 Thoughts for Consideration
You may or may not have tested the new Facebook Graph Search – it's currently only been rolled out to a handful of users in the US. If you haven’t yet had the chance to play with it, you can join the waiting list to get access ASAP. In the mean time, here's an overview of what it involves.
What Does It Do?
It essentially allows a deeper level of social search so that you can find people, places, photos and things based on location, dates, interests, etc. within Facebook.
In particular, Facebook Graph Search can return results specific to your group of friends – some examples of search phrases you could use include "photos my friends took in Seattle" or "restaurants my friends have visited in New York."
You can also search for generic things that don't relate to your friends, for example "people who live in California and like The Walking Dead" or "people in Los Angeles who speak Russian."
What Does It Mean for Your Business?
The degree to which the new Facebook Search may affect your business (either positively or negatively) will depend on what type of business you have. For example, if you have a physical retail presence, it's likely to affect you more than if you're an online-only brand.
It's also worth noting that Facebook Graph Search is still in beta and you can rest assured that we haven't seen all of its future capabilities just yet. But for now, here are some tips for how to capitalize on the new innovation moving forward:
1. Page Likes/Check-ins Have Never Been More Important. Get Them.
It seems that pages with more Likes will not only be deemed more "relevant" to Facebook in this search, but also when people are searching for things their friends like or businesses nearby, Likes will also help your business show up in results.
So if someone searches for Italian restaurants in their local town, Facebook will likely bring up a list of relevant restaurants, starting with those their friends have liked or have checked-into in the past. What restaurant are they more likely to check out that night? The one three of their friends have liked on Facebook.
So the more likes you can get, the more likely it is for your business to continually show up higher in the Facebook Graph Search results.
2. Make Sure You Have Your Address Included in Your Information
As you can imagine, a decent amount of searches via Facebook Graph Search are going to rely on the physical addresses of businesses. It's not clear yet if Facebook is going to be able to return a result for "online businesses that sell clothes and ship to New York," but what they can do is return results on physical businesses within particular cities or countries.
So with this in mind, it's more important than ever to ensure your business page includes your address – or at least your city – if your business is physical and region-specific.
If you have a business that is global, but you have physical locations, it may be worth considering adopting a mutli-page strategy (maybe even via Facebook Global Pages) so that you can capitalize on searches based on location (likely to be a good chunk of them).
3. Get People to Check-In By Providing Incentives
Just like it's more important than ever to get Likes, the same goes for getting people to check in to your business. Obviously, this is only relevant for physical businesses.
If your business has a physical presence, make sure you're set up for check-ins, and make sure you do whatever you can to incentivize and motivate your customers to check in when they visit. That way you'll be more likely to show up in searches, and even better – the check-ins will act as endorsements.
4. Consider Recruitment. Who Needs a Firm to Do the Work for You?
It might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but for certain businesses the new Facebook Graph Search could be useful from a recruitment perspective.
French restaurants can search for people in a certain city who speak French. Other businesses could search for people who have attended a particular college.
Depending on how specific you get with the type of employees you're looking for, Facebook Graph Search just might reveal some suitable people to "headhunt" – and this could be something we see more of from Facebook in the future (i.e. they may develop this aspect to provide an alternative to LinkedIn).
5. Get Marketing Insights
When you think about it, the new Facebook Graph Search could present the perfect opportunity for niche marketing. Obviously, we would never recommend unsolicited messaging (and I'm sure Facebook would act quickly if you started down this path). However, you could potentially get some good marketing insights if you have a niche audience.
For example, if you run a sportswear business and you're interested in opening up a new shop somewhere in the US, try searching for people who are into running or sports in each location to get some insights.
You might also start to see some correlations in terms of age, marital status, education level/institution, etc. that could help you with your marketing. What better way to get to know your customers than Facebook stalking them?
6. Poll Your Audience
At this point, it's hard to know how you could be capitalizing on the new search functionality, but why not poll your Facebook fan base to see how they are using it – find out what sorts of search enquiries they are doing and how they find it useful.
You can use this information to better cater to their needs down the road and make sure you're making the most of the extra exposure your business could be getting.
7. Pay Attention to New Facebook Advertising Opportunities
As with everything Facebook does, this new feature is undoubtedly going to give rise to a new suite of ways you can pay to capitalize on the functionality. It's not clear just yet exactly what Facebook has in mind, but you can rest assured that there will be opportunities in the near future (once beta testing is finished) for businesses to get greater exposure through Facebook Graph Search.
For example, pay to be a sponsored result when people are searching for your business type using Graph Search. There are bound to be other initiatives available too – perhaps integrating offers into it as well so that people can search for things like "Discounts on clothes in Chicago," and presto, your 25% off clothing Facebook offer shows up in the results.
Also likely is the same sort of sponsored results prompted by keywords (similar to what Google currently does with AdWords). For instance, a search for "Walmart" may show some completely different businesses in the results section (sponsored of course).
It's also important to note that along with Facebook Graph Search, Facebook has also partnered with Bing to see results beyond Facebook, which include Sponsored ads through the Bing network.
Seems a little obvious, but keep your finger on the pulse with this initiative so that you don't miss out on new opportunities or ways to capitalize on Graph Search moving forward.
We're always hunting for ways to monetize Facebook so that you not only get high levels of engagement but you're also making sales, getting new customers and ultimately making more money via the channel. Here's an opportunity to tick all these boxes, if you can make the most of it.
What do you think of the new Facebook Graph Search? Do you think it will be the "next big thing," or do you think the novelty will wear off pretty quickly? And more importantly, how do you see it affecting your business?
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