Facebook Introduces Graph Search: Social Discovery’s New Frontier

Facebook has always emphasized the importance of the quality of your followers, versus playing the pure numbers game with your fan-count. With its latest feature, Graph Search, this is more true now than ever before.

The upgrade in Facebook’s search, which was notorious for its face-palm-inducing qualities in the past, will now allow you to scour Facebook for people, places and things – from not only your personal social network of Facebook friends, but the entire site, depending of course on the geo-modifiers and your search’s wording. Thanks to its partnership with Bing, Facebook search can also serve up results that expand past the limitations of the social site’s information.

Facebook’s business model is built teetering on top of all the personal information we willingly submit into its network, making it, in theory, a fantastic engine for personalized advertising, and personalized business recommendations. Graph Search is a sign that the site is moving further in the footsteps of Google, with a more search savvy, business recommendation direction, bad news for sites like Yelp, whose stock plummeted the day Facebook made its big announcement.

Graph Search takes the traditional idea of Google’s search and turns it on its head. It’s search results will inevitably be more about the ‘Who’ not just the ‘What.’ In true Zuckerberg-type fashion, the new search is in theory allowing you to gain deeper value from your Facebook social network.

Where you would Google the somewhat impersonal, “Indian restaurants in Grand Rapids,” now with Graph Search you can go one step further with “Indian restaurants in Grand Rapids that my friends Like.” Which one do you think is more powerful, the search controlled by site authority, Google advertising and various SEO factors, or the one governed by a friend’s endorsement? The idea of ‘Like’ as endorsement has always been there, but now it’s more potent and tangible, because the act of social discovery for your social group’s endorsements are as simple and fast as typing in a search query.

New Graph Search’s Implications for Personal Privacy

Be aware of your search record – Keep in mind that your search history, although not publicly displayed, is visible under your Activity Log section. If someone gains access to your account, they can easily review all of your searches, unless you take the effort to manually clear them on a regular basis.

No option for opting out – Recent privacy changes took away the ability to remove your name from searches; presumably to make Graph Search more overall effective in its depth of valuable social information. Now there’s no saying ‘No’ to Zuckerberg with using Graph Search. In this case, the best offensive is a good defense, so as always, be conscious of your ‘Likes’ and how they may appear to others. If you wouldn’t want your boss or significant other to know that you are a fan of a particular page, don’t associate yourself with it.

How will Graph Search Affect Businesses?

On Facebook it is easier now than ever to pinpoint what local businesses, major brands, non-profits, etc. that your social group likes and ‘Likes’ which has changed the core idea at the core of ‘word-of-mouth’ recommendations. Graph Search makes these ‘Likes’ even more powerful, because now consumers can search exactly for what restaurants, boutiques, toothpaste brands, etc. that their friends interact with on Facebook, making judgments and/or purchasing decisions from what a social media site suggests, rather than from what Google, or pay-per-click advertisements tell them.

What follows is that Graph Search can give an advantage to companies, particularly local businesses, who lack the proper site authority or search engine savvy to make it to the first page of search results. It changes the playing field, since the Facebook results will often depend on what businesses the searcher’s Facebook friend group has interacted with on the site, rather than SEO factors.

A large portion of Google searches include local geo-modifiers, “Best places to eat Chinese food in Grand Rapids” – so it only stands to reason that people will use Facebook search in a similar manner: “Chinese food restaurants my friends from Grand Rapids Like.” What better way to find a restaurant than to mine your friend’s recommendations from their endorsement of ‘Liking’ a particular local restaurant’s Facebook page?

If your business isn’t on Facebook, you need to definitely re-think your marketing strategy. You wouldn’t ignore Google, would you? (If you are ignoring SEO, you may have bigger problems.)  If a particular restaurant is a superb eatery, but doesn’t have a presence on Facebook, or worse yet, has not been promoting its presence, essentially nullifying its efforts of existing on the site, then chances are it won’t show up in the search, because none of the searcher’s friends will have ‘liked’ it on the site. If you don’t promote your Facebook, you will essentially be limiting the amount of reach your business has through your followers’ network.

It’ll be interesting to see as the new search fully rolls out to the public, (it’s currently in beta) just how the new search will be utilized. Will it increase page Likes and other measures of engagement due to smoother social discovery? Will people use it in a more narrow, less business-friendly way – a new tool to aide in people’s digital voyeurism? I’m sure there will be a mix of both uses, but businesses should be conscious that the new search capability can mean a new level of fan growth, brand awareness, and ultimately, get people in the door, or through your online shopping cart process.

Graph Search’s reception and uses may vary, but one thing is certain: With Facebook getting more into the search game, you ignore it at your business’s own peril. Being a social media wallflower, you risk missing out on exposure that can translate into a greater following and ultimately new clients impacting your business’s bottom-line.

How do you think Graph Search will affect users and businesses?

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Posted in Social Media Marketing
One comment on “Facebook Introduces Graph Search: Social Discovery’s New Frontier
  1. Jonathon says:

    No surprise that Facebook continues to try and up its game with social discovery. The only problem is, there are so many apps out there that seem to be one step ahead?

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