Previously, finding out information about your fans on Facebook was quite a tedious task.
Have you ever wondered which of your Facebook fans are fans of a competitor’s page? Or maybe you’ve tried to find fans of your page that work at a certain company, only to find a long and arduous task in front of you.
Well, with the release of Facebook Graph Search this information is basically handed to you on a silver platter.
It’s been just over a month since the release of Facebook Graph Search – a powerful search engine that allows Facebook members to find connections to people, places, photos and pages on Facebook in ways that were not possible before.
With a search function being available on Facebook for a while (but it wasn’t very useful) Facebook’s launch of this Graph Search seemed to really underwhelm people. However, this newest feature has the power to change the way businesses use Facebook in the very near future.
With Graph Search, Facebook promises to be more relevant to their users, helping them to connect the dots between their vast social graphs (social network of relationships).
So what’s going on with the current version?
Graph Search in Beta
Currently Graph Search is in “limited beta” meaning that it is not available to everyone. You will have to sign up and get on a waiting list while the feature is being rolled out.
You can expect Graph Search to become available to English audiences first and then Facebook will make it available to ‘other language’ audiences over the next couple of months.
But what exactly does Graph Search do? And how will it benefit Facebook business users once the finalised version is launched?
How Graph Search Works
Graph Search is probably the most ambitious product Facebook has ever delivered.
Basically the idea is to produce completely unique and highly personalised and socialised search results for all of Facebook’s one billion plus users…wait for it… in real time.
While it’s still early in the game, we already have some clues as to how this feature will work. As a business here is what you need to know:
Search suggestions – you need your name on the map!
When a user starts searching in this new search bar Facebook will offer some suggestions.
This means before anything has been typed Facebook is suggesting the user may want to search for their friends, photos of friends, restaurants nearby, games friends are playing, music their friends like, and photos the user may have liked.
When these suggestions come up the user may click on any of them or enter their own search terms.
The reasons why this benefits businesses is if several fans have recently liked or checked into a business this will show up in a friend’s search results making it more likely that they will use this product or service.
We all know how word of mouth marketing works and this is one step above – these ‘social recommendations’ (i.e. a ‘Like’ or a Check-in by a fan which is then seen by their friends and family on Facebook) have the ability to put a business’s name on the map where it wasn’t previously.
So this means a business must now be dedicated to protecting and growing their social reputation. A business that is consistently gaining Likes, encouraging their fans to check in and increasing their page engagement is more likely to benefit from Graph Search than those businesses that tend to ignore their Facebook page or what their followers are saying.
How is this different from a search on Google?
Well, Facebook Graph Search is different from Google in that it is a socially driven search.
There is a ‘refine your search’ option given where users can choose to search something that has been liked by their friends or even a certain friend. This is a very important point for businesses! Users will be able to make decisions about these searched items (e.g. whether or not they want to purchase this product or service) based on their friends’ personal opinions and recommendations.
Google on the other hand offers a one-dimensional search where the results are limited to web pages or your own search history e.g. a Google search for ‘Restaurants in Sydney’ will only produce relevant websites for that category.
With Facebook Graph Search a user will get a personalised, multi-dimensional search such as ‘Restaurants in Sydney liked and visited by my friends’ meaning that businesses that have high amounts of check-ins and a consistent increase in ‘Likes’ will be high up in a Facebook user’s search results.
It’s essentially a place where users can go to find out their friend’s reviews, likes, and dislikes of a certain place or business.
Are you starting to see how powerful this is for businesses?
Facebook Graph Search is not just another search engine – it has the potential to become one of the most powerful search/recommendation tools consumers can use and businesses now need to really start focusing on their own Facebook page and their reputation within their Facebook community.
When the full version launches, a new era of search – social search – will be launched with it.
Matt Barbelli is CD at Frank Digital