If you’re similar to roughly one billion other folks across the globe, ‘Facebooking’ has become routine as brushing your teeth or checking the mail. Liking a friend’s photo, posting a status update, or following a local business on Facebook is no different than striking up a conversation around the water cooler. An accepted form of communication, Facebook has become a primary medium of social interaction, with users sharing more content than ever.
While you might refer to Facebook as a social networking site, recent developments have suggested bigger things on the horizon. On January 15th, Facebook unveiled its ‘Graph Search’ functionality. An advancement that will likely become a cornerstone of the Facebook experience, Graph Search is basically what it sounds like. Facebook users will have the ability to search for people, photos, and places, all based on the interactions of their friends. Content that used to fall to the bottom of a Newsfeed will now remain relevant, just as something that is found in a Google search will remain (somewhat) in its place.
Still in beta testing to a small group of users, this new move makes perfect sense. With over a billion users, Facebook search was a vast, untapped resource. Plus, it’s no secret that we place more legitimacy on content and input that comes from friends. Think about it. If you’re trying to find a great seafood place in Austin, Texas, which would you trust more? An anonymous user review on Google, or the tried-and-true experience of a college friend who now resides in Austin, Texas? Users will have the capability to find a most liked piece of content within their friends, meaning brands can capitalize on fan feedback.
Facebook Graph Search can be broken down into a couple of categories, including people, places, photos, and interests. Results can be segmented further by demographics including education, gender, relationship status, etc. A user’s privacy settings will determine what information is available for friends to view.
People. While you can now search friends by their name, Graph Search will help find friends who share common interests within their profile. This might include hometown, careers, or special interests like fishing.
Places. You can now search by physical locations your friends have been to. For instance, you may want to search for “day spas in Austin, Texas my friends have been to,” or “tourist attractions in Austin, Texas that my friends have visited.”
Photos. Using Graph Search, you can also find tagged photos based on search queries. Examples might include “photos from July 4th” or “photos I like.”
Interests. Another Graph Search option is by interests, such as “friends who listen to Led Zeppelin” or “friends who watch Family Guy.”
So, what do these changes mean for your business? Here, we’ve pinpointed five impacts Graph Search will have on your brand:
1. More chances to be discovered
Since Graph Search makes it easy to see which friends have eaten at a certain restaurant, taken various trips, or listen to similar music, it becomes easier for users to discover your page. Graph Search connects common interests, meaning the people who visit your page are likely more interested in the services you offer, and have a more direct purpose for seeking you out.
2. A need for top-notch content
With the ability to receive glowing recommendations from fans comes a certain responsibility. You’ve got to create content that people find valuable, engaging, and great enough to share. As SEO continues to integrate with social media, search graph signals such as Likes and Shares will determine whether your business shows up in a Facebook search. You must be easily accessible to those seeking out your products, which means having a Facebook page full of valuable content will be vital to success.
3. Location must be instantly clear
As one of the search filters will be location, your physical address will be a key search component. It’s important to make sure your contact information is readily available and up to date.
4. Image, image, image
You know you’re guilty: remember the time you spent two hours scrolling through a high school rival’s Facebook photos? Graph Search will allow users to search other friend’s images with a variety of filters, such as “friends near the ocean” or “photos of friends from 2012.” This means businesses must consider allowing fans to tag themselves in photos. They should also provide detailed captions and meta-data information to the photos they post to their business page.
5. Fan engagement is everything
Businesses that are most talked about among Graph Search users’ friends will have priority in search results. This means that simply accumulating ‘likes’ will not be enough. You’ve got to get people interested and talking about your business. By establishing relationships with fans through conversation and valuable content, they’ll have a reason to sing your praises. In turn, your business will show up higher in Graph Search results. Who wouldn’t love that?
Will Facebook Graph Search become the next Google? Will you decide where to eat dinner based on friend input, rather than a description you found on a restaurant’s website? The future of search is in a rapid state of transition. Whatever the outcome, social interaction will play a major role in the way we find and act on information. Stay tuned for more details to come!