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Published on

January 30, 2014



Facebook isn’t just a social network – it’s a giant database made up of one billion people sharing 240 billion photos and making one trillion connections. Now, that entire database is searchable with the new Graph Search, Facebook’s personalized search engine.

If you’ve made it on the beta list, you can conduct multidimensional searches for people, places, photos and interests. For example, if I wanted to search for all of the photos I’ve ever liked, I’d simply enter that query into the search field and I’d be presented with an entire album of photos I’ve liked over the years. Or, if I want a list of all the places I’ve checked in over the years I can see that.

It’s Not Google

If you haven’t figured it out already, the multidimensional search capabilities make Graph Search entirely different from Google or any other typical search engine.

With this new search function you’re able to drill-down search results with parameters such as “friends who attended Boston University who now live in San Francisco”:

You’re not just searching links on the web – you’re searching connections among your friends and family. In fact, all public data on Facebook is searchable with Graph Search (and, conversely, all privacy settings are honored). This is something that hasn’t really been available before, without doing lots of digging and multiple manual searches of your own. Now you can find pretty much whatever you want from your Facebook data, all in one place.

The Ultimate Search Engine for Marketers

So what does this all mean for marketers? If your brand doesn’t have a Facebook Page yet, now is the time to get one. The marketing possibilities unlocked by Graph Search are endless, but we’ve laid out a few that we think will be the most prominent.

The race for ‘likes’

Now that users can search any type of brand or business based on their friends’ recommendations, ‘likes’ will carry a lot more weight on Facebook – at least at first. Just like any search algorithm, Facebook’s will likely get smarter over time in order to strip out extraneous or misleading data.

Take a look at all of the Pages you’ve liked on Facebook over the years. Chances are you wouldn’t actually recommend each of these to a friend; perhaps you’ve never even experienced some of these brands first-hand. Hopefully Facebook puts more emphasis on actual conversations around specific brands, or at the very least more heavily weighs check-ins, conversations and photos over ‘likes’, but in the meantime, we can expect brands to focus on driving fan growth by offering incentives to ‘like’ their Pages.

Facebook SEO

Again, just like any other search engine, Graph Search uses an algorithm to serve the best results to users. Until we learn more about this algorithm, marketers will have to make educated guesses on how to optimize their Facebook content so that it ‘ranks’ higher than others. Just as online buzz around content is valuable in Google’s eyes, Facebook marketers will have to rely on conversations around their brand on Facebook – whether it’s on the brand’s Page or on user’s personal profiles. As mentioned above, it won’t always be just about who or what gets more ‘likes’ – they have to be supported by concrete evidence that one brand is favored over another.

Location-based marketing

Location-based marketing isn’t a new concept, but marketers haven’t really explored this tactic on Facebook versus other, more popular location-based platforms such as Foursquare. Again, it all goes back to Facebook’s search algorithm. When users check in to a Place on Facebook, it validates that they have experienced a restaurant, concert venue or museum – and thus makes their data more valuable to the algorithm. Just as we’ll likely see brands encouraging users to ‘like’ their Pages even more, we should also expect to see more incentives to check in to locations on Facebook. What are some other tactics you think marketers will look to capitalize on?

Is your brand looking forward to experimenting with Graph Search?

For more on digital marketing, social media and SEO, follow Danie on Twitter @daniepote.

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