Facebook recently announced that it would implement a new feature that would change the way people used the social media giant. Limited to beta testers, Graph Search made its debut to the social media world with a spark of controversy. It seems people didn’t realize just how public and tangible their information had become.
Graph Search is an eye-opener all right. Now I can find pictures a specific friend has liked, or places they’ve recently traveled and checked in to.
For those of you who are concerned about your privacy, you have the ability to change those settings on your Facebook account. Perhaps you should take a closer look at your “friends” list. Graph Search didn’t change any settings, it just gave people easier access to information they already had access to.
Now that the general public has been addressed, I’ll move on to discussing how Graph Search will impact Facebook marketers. In order to cross that bridge, however, we must first delve into what exactly what Graph Search is — how it operates, and how to take advantage of its features.
What Is Graph Search?
Graph Search helps Facebook users to develop connections based on people’s interests and opinions. Right now the search is limited to your friends and their friends (friends of friends). If you are familiar with the game “6 Degrees of Separation” then we’re going 2 levels deep. Will Graph Search expand past the second level? We’ll have to wait and see!
As of right now, Graph Search displays 12 results per page, and searches can include over 39 criteria. These are divided up into several categories:
- Basic Info (name, gender, etc.)
- Work and Education (employer, position, etc.)
- Likes and Interests (likes, following, etc.)
- Photos and Videos (tagged in, commented on, etc.)
- Living (birth year, current city, etc.)
- Relationship and Family (relationship to, married to, etc.)
Yes, there are a lot of et cetera’s in there! To give you some more information on how to think in terms of Graph Search, Facebook also recommended these following searches to me when I did a broad search of my friends:
- Photos of these people
- These people’s friends
- Places where they’ve worked
- Places where they’ve studied
- Videos of these people
- Landmarks they’ve visited
- Languages they speak
- Places they’ve lived
- Places they’re from
- Activities they like
- These people groups
One search that didn’t make it onto the suggestion list was “Pages liked by these people”. Yes, you can search for that. Maybe it’s time to think about your Fan Page. Is it ready to be searchable? Let’s get you ready to hit the ground running when Graph Search goes public.
#1 Preparing For Graph Search
Some of your posts, ads, or offers already appear in people’s feeds. We already know that friends of friends see what someone has liked recently, like a page or a photo. We’re used to being discovered or stumbled upon through the News Feed, and have had some moderate success with it already. Search is a different beast though, and requires a closer look at what is behind your Fan Page. Specifically, the About section.
Facebook is now operating as a search engine. Like Google, it will index certain parts of your profile and Fan Page that have relavent information. Make sure that your Fan Page’s About section is accurate. Fill in as many criteria as you can, and don’t try to make your Fan Page something it is not. Get 10,000 Fans is not a restaurant.
I believe one of the more important sections will be the description of your Fan Page. Fill this area with the keywords that you are targeting, but do it naturally. We’re not certain how strict Facebook’s Graph Search algorithm is yet regarding nonsense keyword stacking, but it is generally better to err on the side of caution. Businesses got hurt by Google’s Panda and Penguin updates. Let’s not have another incident like that.
#2 Pictures Are Even More Important
Photos and other media are popular methods for getting engagement and shares on Facebook. Graph Search brings another some more metrics to the table – tags, comments, and locations.
What can you do as a Fan Page owner? Start tagging your pictures and video. Tag yourself in it, tag your coworkers in it, tag whoever wants to be tagged in it. Don’t stop there though. Put in the location of where the photo or video took place. You want to add as many searchable terms and metrics to your content as possible.
Now on the flip side, I wouldn’t recommend you start tagging anyone and everyone. Will you grow your searchable network? Sure, but you’ll also lose fans and credibility by using a tactic we refer to as “spam”. People don’t appreciate that, and it’s not worth sacrificing your brand image to be able to be searched by more people.
A thought occurred to me while writing this – what about contests that involve tagging yourself and commenting? No. You can’t do that. It violates the Facebook guidelines. The only thing contests are able to accomplish are getting you “likes”, or having someone check-in at your establishment. That brings us to my next point.
#3 Brick And Mortar, Pros And Cons
Are check-in’s searchable in Graph Search? You bet. Search in general is also becoming more localized. It’s been reported that 20% of Google searches now show local intent, while 40% of mobile searches are local. Are you taking advantage of these social signals?
Allow me to follow Google’s model briefly. They currently have an app on Google+ called Local, allowing its users to search for businesses and provide reviews. I could see Facebook implementing something similar into their new search capability. If they do, your business will be dependent on reviews as well. Be sure to monitor your reviews and take into consideration how you will handle a negative one.
#4 The Foreseeable Future Of Graph Search
As you’ve read above, I have already alluded to Facebook incorporating a review feature that is searchable in Graph Search. Something else that Facebook itself has teased at is post searching. As of right now, you cannot search for keywords or content located within a post. If you take a peek at the picture above, I believe that feature will be enabled soon.
Some people have been predicting that Graph Search will be the downfall of dating sites and businesses of that nature. Personally, I think that’s a bit of an overstatement. Chances are when Graph Search goes live to the pubic people are going to be making some privacy changes, probably involving pictures and things of a more private nature. I don’t think Fan Pages they’ve liked, commented, or otherwise interacted with will be on the list of concern.
In its infancy, Graph Search does bring some concerns and opportunities to light.
From what we have learned so far about Facebook’s Graph Search, we can see some adjustments that need to be made as marketers. In order to dominate search results, we have to take advantage of the About section of our Fan Pages and fill it in appropriately. Photos and tagging become more important, as does the “like” in general.
Keep your eyes open for updates as more features are unlocked. It will be fun seeing where Facebook decides to take its next step.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to double check my privacy settings and update our Fan Page.