I’m sure you’re on Facebook. One in four people on the entire planet are. Facebook’s previous search functionality, well…for lack of a better word, sucked. All you received were results for people, pages, groups or apps before being directed to Bing search results.
Graph Search is aiming to change the user’s search experience to match that of Google (well, sort of). Graph Search is allowing users to conduct phrase-based queries to discover alternative information based on data that Facebook has collected from its members over time.
So, let’s say you want to find friends who love food. Who the hell doesn’t like food?? You can put in a query of something like, “Restaurants my friends like,” and you can obtain results about restaurants, maybe certain blogs they subscribe to and yes, certain types of food categories. You didn’t realize a lot of your friends were Vegan’s? Now you do. You can also refine or extend your search when your search results come up.
If you don’t have Graph Search available on your account yet, that’s because you needed to be invited since it’s still in beta version. Be patient and quit tapping your feet since this first iteration will cover four main areas only: People, photos, places and interests. Need to find a restaurant nearby? This first iteration of Graph Search will help you do that.
So, How Does This Impact Businesses?
For starters, it has the potential to take business away from popular location based services like Yelp and Foursquare. I mean, why would you use a separate location based service when you already have it on your Facebook account with Graph Search? It’s certainly more efficient for the user to use just one social medium for what they’re looking for. You’ll also find that Graph Search provides its results in a more visually appealing way and provides users with information that is unavailable on Yelp and Foursquare like friends who have liked or checked into a particular business and when.
When Graph Search evolves into the tool that Facebook wants it to become, businesses with a Facebook page will want to optimize their social strategies to ensure that their brand is among the top results when a search is conducted (kind of like SEO for Facebook).
Optimizing Your Page For Graph Search
Since we’re just starting out like a child beginning to walk with Graph Search, there are a select few items that businesses who have fan pages can do now.
1. The number of “likes” will matter. Just like a popularity contest with Google, you can compare the number of likes as a popularity contest for Facebook. The more likes you have for your page, the more likely your fan page will come up higher on search results with Graph Search.
2. Check-in’s will be influential as well. So, a promotion is probably required here. If you have a storefront business and want more traffic, offer 5 – 10% the visitor’s next purchase if they use the check-in function on Facebook. This not only will improve your ranking on Graph Search but it also promotes fan engagement. Remember what social media is about: Keeping people connected and communicating.
3. Make sure your profile is complete and updated, especially when it comes to your about section on your fan page. Since cover images are not supposed to include information that would typically be in your about section, it’s imperative that your website address, blog information, address and phone are all up to date.
What Does the Future of Graph Search Hold?
With the old version of Facebook’s search you were ultimately led to Bing’s search results. As Facebook members start using Graph Search on a regular basis, they could end up on Bing more often, at which point it is up to Bing to keep them coming back. This can certainly improve Bing’s popularity, but I certainly wouldn’t call it a Google murderer either.
The biggest question floating out there is whether Facebook will utilize a new ad format for Graph Search exclusively. If you currently are running an ad on Facebook, brands can launch an ad within sponsored results which will appear to people whether or not they have Graph Search.
Have you used Graph Search on Facebook yet? Do you see it being a game changer for businesses who are on Facebook?