Graph Search: What It Is, Why It Matters
On Tuesday, January 15, Facebook introduced its latest update, Graph Search. As this new functionality is rolled out, users will be able to search – and be found – in new ways.
Instead of simply seeking a person, place, or thing, Facebook users will be empowered to qualify searches with people my friends know, places my friends like, and things my friends are interested in, as well as other honed searches.
Planning a provel-topped pizza party featuring music from the Kind of Blue album to be hosted at your St. Louis home? Create your guest list by searching for friends and friends of friends who live in St. Louis, like provel cheese, and listen to music by Miles Davis.
In addition to creating guest lists and seeking new service providers (perhaps you’re seeking a new salon after a nightmarish haircut and need help identifying salons in your area that your friends like) Facebook’s new search functionality will give users the tools to find companies to work for, work with, and patronize. So, while it will affect the user experience, it will also impact how businesses are found, perceived, and engaged.
The Importance of Authentic Likes
The results returned by Graph Search will be informed by the past actions of those a user is connected to, while the relevance of search results will largely be determined by the authenticity of Facebook users’ content. If something is liked facetiously, Graph Search may not be able to identify what is actually liked as opposed to what is intended as a joke. Similarly, some use likes as a means to follow a conversation or brand, or express a show of support for a cause; a like does not always translate to a recommendation.
As users turn to Graph Search, the weight of friends’ influence will grow. For businesses, this means the quality of their Facebook page likes will outweigh the quantity to an even greater degree. A person who likes a company’s page and has an extensive network of friends will have the potential to bring that company into the search results of more prospective customers. Likewise, a large quantity of likes won’t help a page reach an extended network if those likes are from fake accounts without genuine connections.
The Business-to-Business Perspective
Graph Search’s impact on the user search experience will have obvious implications for consumer-facing businesses like retail outlets and restaurants, but it also presents opportunities for business-to-business corporations.
In recruiting, Graph Search could enable a page manager to seek current employees’ friends who work at a company whose talent you’d like to attract. This same process could be used to locate a contact within a company you’d like to court as a potential client. Likewise, as users employ Graph Search as a general search tool, a brand’s reputation on Facebook could have a more widespread impact on how potential employees and clients view that business.
Be Engaged, Be Found
As businesses are further incentivized to maintain a Facebook page, the number of brand pages will grow, providing Facebook a potential new pool of advertisers while instigating greater competition among pages to rank in search results. For this reason, it is even more important to utilize your brand’s page as a forum for growing your audience, as well as promoting dialogue and brand interaction with fans. Facebook is already a great platform for telling your brand story, identifying brand advocates, and communicating with your customers.
Continuing to build and engage with your audience now could set the stage for greater results as other businesses enter the medium.
While Graph Search is still in beta, like past Facebook updates, it will eventually be rolled out in phases until it reaches all users. If you’re eager to start exploring Graph Search’s capabilities, you can sign up for the beta waitlist here.