Aside from keeping up with Google’s algorithm changes, online marketers are also busy keeping up with the latest online trends. One of the biggest changes recently made that have created a buzz in the online marketing world is Facebook’s introduction of Graph Search. Among the questions surrounding this new development has to do with what impact it will have on online marketing in general and social media marketing in particular. If you own a business or work for a SEO company, then it certainly makes sense for you to learn as much as you can about this new Facebook feature.
What is Graph Search?
Some people have said this is the first search engine that’s truly social. Basically, it provides Facebook users with an alternative tool for conducting online searches. When you conduct a search using Facebook Graph, the tool will crawl through the information found in your social connections. Unlike Google, which provides a list of links based on the keywords you provide, the Graph Search tool provides results based on contextual information and intended meaning. The aim is to provide users with more relevant results, considering that results come from the pages of people with similar interests.
So, how exactly will the Facebook Graph Search affect the different brands and marketers currently running online campaigns? Here are some predictions:
Brands and marketers have long been getting demographic insight from Facebook as regards the users who share stories about their experiences with products and brands. With the new Graph Search, Facebook should be able to provide even more details that can lead to deeper demographic insights. This can help marketers target their campaigns and optimize their pages not only on Facebook, but across all social media platforms.
2. Beyond “Likes”
At present, marketers gear their social media activities to get more Likes, Shares, retweets, and the like because this is the best way to increase brand visibility on social media. With Graph Search, however, there will likely be a need to go beyond getting more Likes. Of course, the Likes and Shares will still matter, but marketers will have to focus more on creating useful “stories” by engaging your audience and encouraging them to voice their opinions on your pages. These stories will make your page more easily searchable on Facebook Graph Search.
Even better news is that these stories will appear on the Timeline of each user who interacts on your page as well as on the mini-feed Ticker) found at the top right of their Facebook screens. The stories are also likely to appear on the News Feeds and Tickers of the user’s friends. Increasing visibility and going viral in the age of the Graph Search therefore requires not just Likes, but also continual active participation from your audience. This requires you to constantly come up with creative ways of engaging your online community.
3. Going Local
One of the things Facebook users can search for using the Graph Search tool is the name of local businesses frequented by their friends. For example, if you’re a user who wants to know what the most popular bar is in a specific area, then you could conduct a search for “What bars do my friends in San Francisco visit?” The tool will then crawl through your account and those of your friends to see which particular bars in San Francisco get the most mentions, shares, and likes. Considering this, it is therefore very important for local businesses to build and strengthen their presence on Facebook.
In this connection, larger businesses – particularly those who are into franchising – will also need to reassess their Facebook marketing strategy and think locally. They will have to focus more on engaging their audience on the pages of their individual local storefronts (branches, franchises, etc.) rather than on their corporate page. This isn’t to say they should stop engaging on their corporate pages, of course; it simply means they need to engage more on their local pages.
Another possibly significant impact the Graph Search might have in terms of local businesses is that it could soon offer fierce competition to review sites such as Yelp or location-based services such as Foursquare. This is especially true when you consider that users could easily use the Graph Search in conjunction with Facebook Places. In fact, it may not be too much to assume that Graph Search will soon overtake Yelp, Foursquare, and similar sites and services.
The online world and social media continue to evolve every single day. As a business owner or SEO professional, you need to constantly keep up with the latest developments and trends. Keeping in mind the impact Facebook’s new Graph Search could possibly have on your online marketing efforts, it’s high time for you to learn how to use this new tool to your advantage.