Facebook graph search: what could it mean for your business?
This week, Facebook doyen Mark Zuckerberg revealed an exciting new search tool for Facebook users and content marketers alike: Facebook Graph Search. Unlike the existing Facebook search tool, Graph Search allows people to input extremely detailed search terms, providing them with results that are both specific and popular – for example, a search for ‘boutique shops liked by my friends in London’ would bring up just that, with the tool providing not only relevant results but those which have been most recommended by your friends. Of course, Graph Search is still very much in its infancy at the moment, and it remains to be seen just whether it will live up to its promise or not. Regardless of Facebook Graph Search’s future functionality, it’s certainly an exciting prospect for the world of social media, but what could it mean for your business? Here at Crowdbait, we’ve identified three different areas in which Graph Search could have a revolutionary impact:
Facebook users will doubtless enjoy the most immediate benefits from Graph Search. The tool will allow them to sift through people, places, photos and interests with more speed and accuracy than ever before. If you wanted to look at your friends’ experiences a particular holiday destination, say, you could search ‘pictures of friends who visited Paris’ and Graph Search would diligently dig up the results for you. Zuckerberg hopes that the Facebook tool will give users a more immersive, convenient experience of his social network, calling it ‘our third pillar’ after the Timeline and News Feed functions. While private users will undoubtedly enjoy the ability to navigate the site with unprecedented accuracy, Graph Search could also prove beneficial to businesses worldwide. While an accumulation of Facebook ‘likes’ was little more than a badge of honour for businesses before, with Graph Search, the more popular a business is, the more likely it will be to turn up in search results. Companies that target particularly niche audiences, for example, ‘bookstores liked by people who also like graphic novels’, could especially benefit from Graph Search, generating web traffic that would have been lost via traditional web search engines.
Microsoft’s Bing search engine has long played second fiddle to Google, but the launch of Facebook Graph Search may well prove to be a boon for Bing. Graph Search offers additional dimensionality to existing web-based search engines, providing increased precision to a traditionally broad medium. It should come as no surprise that Facebook is home to a wealth of data – the sort of data that most content marketers would give their eye teeth for – and Bing will be able to tap into this lucrative resource in future. In the early days of Graph Search, any query that fails to provide an adequate result will divert users to Bing web search, increasing traffic to the site and benefitting Microsoft immensely. If the popularity of Bing increases thanks to the Graph Search updates, it’s safe to say that the Google-centric landscape of online marketing will change significantly in future.
Perhaps the most exciting application of Graph Search – at least from our perspective – is as a potential content marketing tool. We’ve already talked about how Facebook Graph Search will allow businesses to occupy niches and be found by customers far more easily than ever before, and this ties into the nature of content marketing. Companies that produce engaging, likeable content will be rewarded by Graph Search in a more immediately tangible way than with Google or other web search engines, as the businesses with the best content will generate the most likes, and thus appear more frequently toward the top of the list in search results. The more ‘likes’ your restaurant has, for example, the more likely it is to be among the first search terms for ‘restaurants liked by my friends who also like to travel’. Those who use content marketing will be able to tailor content towards their preferred audiences, generating likes and comments and thus featuring in a greater number of Graph Search results. The more traffic your business attracts, the more likes you’ll accumulate and the more likely your content is to go viral – the central tenet of content marketing. Furthermore, content marketers may well benefit from the analytics provided by future Graph Search results. The ability to discover, in detail, the other likes and interests of people that like your services and online content will enable you to produce future content that contains further appeal for the individuals that make up your audience demographic.
Facebook Graph Search has a great deal of potential for future business applications, particularly from a content marketing perspective. It remains to be seen whether or not the tool will fulfil that potential, but it’s nevertheless exciting to see how the world of social networking and online marketing may progress in the near future. The main point we ought to take away from Facebook Graph Search is that it can be an extremely powerful online marketing tool if combined with the principles of content marketing. The more exciting, engaging online content your company produces, the more social network users will interact with your site and the more frequently you’ll appear in searches – it’s a self fulfilling cycle, and as we know, such cycles breed marketing success.