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Facebook Graph Search: What It Is & What It Means For Your Business

describe the imageFacebook puts out updates often, and sometimes you may not be aware of what they are and what they really do – it’s happened to me once or twice! The latest big update was Graph Search, which rolled out to the U.S. earlier this month. By now you’re probably wondering what it is and what it means for your business.

I’m sure you’ve fumbled around with the search function on Facebook, trying to find certain businesses, people, or places. The problem with the old search function was that you had to enter in exactly what you were looking for, which could be a pain. Graph search introduces a whole new way to search and, for a lack of a better word, is more “Facebook-y.”

How It Works

First, let’s just get one thing out of the way. This new search functionality is powerful and intuitive. It works by aggregating all of the likes/tags, etc., that everyone has been making over the years and puts them into one pool; these likes/tags are then linked to the individual users. This means that since you liked Justin Bieber, you will populate in search results for people who like Justin Bieber. So…you may want to go through and make sure you’re okay with everything you’ve liked over the years.

The terms you use to search in Graph Search are more natural, i.e., conversational. Facebook wanted to make this easy to use, hence, you can search for “friends who like Tom Hanks.” Unsurprisingly, the results that would populate would be a list of all of your friends that like Tom Hanks on Facebook. You could also put in “friends of friends who like Tom Hanks” which will show you friends of your friends who like Tom Hanks. Yep, it’s pretty simple. Below is an example of what the beginning of a search will look like.

facebook graph search 620df011613

What This Means For Businesses

Graph Search is another reason for your business to have an active presence on Facebook, since your business can come up in search results more often than before. The previous search function only allowed your business to come up in search results if a user typed in the exact name of your business.

To further improve your chances of coming up in search, you also need to have a fully filled out profile with as much content as possible. This means everything from location to your company’s description will be fuel for Graph Search and will show up in the results.

Tagging your business, employees, and other people in photos will also help you show up in searches – you just need to make sure that you’re comfortable with all kinds of people seeing this content. Pictures of a raucous company Christmas party may not be content you want found by prospective customers as they search.

Let’s say that you manufacture product X.  If someone types in “Product X” into Facebook’s Graph Search, options to search for pictures, pages, friends who like product X, and people who like product X will appear in a drop down menu. This means the more content you have out on Facebook, the more you’ll be rewarded in searches!

Location, Location, Location

Yeah, you should probably make sure that you have the location part of your business page filled out correctly. The early buzz looks like this will be a huge part of Graph Search down the road. For instance, people can look for “pizza restaurants in Pittsburgh” and the list will show a list of pizza restaurants located there. Someone could also search for “pizza restaurants my friends like in Pittsburgh” and restaurants that their friends have liked in that city will come up. This isn’t just for restaurants, either; the same applies for bike repair shops, car dealerships, clothing stores, movie theatres, financial services, etc. Here is an example of a general search for restaurants in San Francisco below.

graph search restaraunts


As of this writing, Facebook does not have ads implemented to populate for relevant searches in Graph Search, but it has been implied as a future update. What this will mean for marketers is that they can target their ads for highly specific long tail searches that they may be trying to rank for in Google. Essentially, you’ll be able to target people down to fine search details and make the Facebook ad dollars you spend stretch a little further. Of course, you can already target specific types of people with Facebook ads; Graph Search gives you another place for those ads to populate. Also, people will be actively looking for things in a search that will trigger your related ads instead of your ads just populating on their sidebars because of specific profile characteristics.

A Few Things to Keep in Mind

Now I have to be a little bit of a Debbie Downer with Graph Search. The topic of “likes” is buzzing around the initial blog posts right now. Some pages are behemoths with thousands and thousands or millions of likes. The likes that pages have are used as votes of confidence for that page in Graph Search. Thus, pages with more likes will come up higher in the search results. Unfortunately, likes on Facebook are not great votes of confidence like Google+ 1s are. Undoubtedly, many companies will run promotions just to generate likes which may encourage all pages to do this.

The biggest element in determining what comes up in Graph Search will be how willing people are to share their information. Graph Search is all about information, so if users aren’t willing to share, fewer results will show up in search and the web of information will shrink.

What The Future Holds 

There’s no doubt that Graph Search will become highly used as it rolls out over time and users become comfortable with it. It will be a great tool to locate people/businesses that may not have otherwise been found. Graph Search hasn’t rolled out to the mobile apps yet but when it does, the traffic will increase and local searches for places while people are traveling will likely skyrocket.

Privacy is a very hot topic right now with Graph Search. Facebook has implemented numerous privacy options that you can activate on your content. Obviously, the best practice is to only put content on Facebook that you’re comfortable with anyone seeing.

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