Facebook Unveils Graph Search: What You and Your Brand Need to Know
by Matthew Bick
One of Facebook’s largest announcements ever took place recently as Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new feature that will have major repercussions for brands and individual users alike. “Graph Search” is Facebook’s answer to the marriage between search and social queries that Google established when it began displaying Google+ results in user search. The new Facebook search utility will allow users to comb through their social connections in entirely new ways. Here are the most pertinent pieces of information so far on how those features might affect your brand.
How will your customers use Facebook Graph Search?
Graph Search allows users to finally harness the enormous power of Facebook’s social data to find exactly what they’re looking for. Perhaps even more remarkably, Graph Search allows users to search using common language. Put simply, a user can ask questions of Facebook in the same manner as they would a friend, face-to-face.
Say a user wants to find a good vegetarian restaurant that their friends would recommend, as demonstrated in this example by CNET’s Jennifer Van Grove. All the user has to do is type in “vegetarian restaurants my friends like,” and Graph Search rolls up its sleeves and digs. Graph Search will comb through the social data of the users’ friends to find vegetarian restaurants and return the results.
What does it mean for your brand’s social presence?
Suffice it to say, if relevant and engaging content was important before, it’s even more important now. As described above, Facebook uses page likes (among other factors) to determine Graph Search results. Brands that receive more Facebook likes are much more likely to appear favorably in Graph Search.
Advertising Age’s Michael Lazerow previewed how Graph Search might impact consumer search behavior in the not too distant future. Lazerow cites an example of how Facebook Graph Search might bring together intent, social context and target audiences in a brand-building capacity, stating “all of a sudden, Ford can advertise to friends of their current customers who are in the market for a car today. That’s exciting and opens up many possibilities to take loyalty and social referrals to the next level.”
How soon should brands begin preparations?
Facebook has only announced that Graph Search will only be rolling out in beta capacity in the near term. No immediate plans for full integration of the service has not been announced, although it seems unlikely that Facebook probably will let Graph Search gather significant dust before mass rollout. That noted, any preparations made by marketers in response to the increased emphasis that Facebook placed on the quality, relevant content throughout 2012 will be in a better position to secure the engagement needed for Graph Search visibility.