The big announcement that has everyone’s attention is the Facebook Graph Search. It is an attempt to take a huge bite out of Google by allowing the user to search for the interests, location and preferences of your friends. (Image credit: Flickr)
Facebook Graph Search: What’s on Offer
The video below unveils the new service.
Here is a description of what’s on offer with the Facebook Graph Search –
At long last, Facebook’s search challenge to Google has arrived. But it has arrived in a much different format than many expected. Indeed, Facebook’s not using its data to provide a better search that Google. Facebook is providing a new type of search that you simply can’t do on Google or anywhere else….(…)…With Facebook Graph Search, the objects we search for aren’t web pages but instead virtual representations of real world objects: people, places and things. The connections are primarily Facebook Likes. Did such-and-such a person like a particular photo? A particular doctor? A particular restaurant? Those likes are the ties that bind the information in Facebook together.
Watch the video for a brief introduction to how the Facebook Graph Search works
Has it replaced Google Search?
Gregory Ferenstein contends that Facebook may have replaced Google as the best search engine –
Birds of a feather flock together, and only Facebook can let you know about all the cool things your friends experience that’d you’d also like to know about.
“If you know a person’s music preference you can tell what kind of person they are,” said Psychology Professor Adrian North, who found surprisingly tight similarities between music genre and personality. No shocker, North confirmed that the droves of eyeliner-wearing emo fans packed into indie concerts do, indeed, have “low self-esteem.” Indeed, after music discovery service, Pandora, integrated Facebook social data into their recommendation algorithm, I noticed that many of my favorite new songs were first liked by my friends.
Does Facebook Graph Search changes metrics and engagement?
In terms of content metrics and engagement Zuckerburg says the Facebook “like” has now become a metric of value in the same way a hyperlink is for Google.
“It’s descriptive — it’s search,” Zuckerberg says. “And the graph is a big thing.” The idea is that Facebook’s new offering will be able to extract meaning from the social graph in much the same way that Google’s original search unearthed the hidden treasures of the web. “People use search engines to answer questions,” Zuckerberg says. “But we can answer a set of questions that no one else can really answer. All those other services are indexing primarily public information, and stuff in Facebook isn’t out there in the world — it’s stuff that people share. There’s no real way to cut through the contents of what people are sharing, to fulfill big human needs about discovery, to find people you wouldn’t otherwise be connected with. And we thought we should do something about that. We’re the only service in the world that can do that.”
While other search engines could catalogue Facebook links, they’re not allowed to index the site to do so. So in essence Facebook is the only company that can actually provide this service and have gone so far as to set up restrictions around the site to protect their advantage.
Tips to understand Facebook Graph Search and improve Your business page
So given that SEO and social seem to be on a collision course what are things you can do to improve engagement on your business pages.
According to facebook-studio.com:
Here’s how the Facebook Graph Search works:
- The search bar first returns the top search suggestions, including people, Pages, apps, places, groups, and suggested searches. People can search for things like restaurants near them, hotels in places they want to travel to, photos posted by Pages they like, or games that their friends like to play.
- These search suggestions take people to a unique results page. The results returned are based on factors that include information that has been shared by your business and the connections of the person searching.
- As has been the case for some time, we may also make search suggestions in the search bar that then can trigger web searches. Web searches will display Bing results and Bing ads, similar to results on Bing.com.
- Pages and apps can still use sponsored results, which appear to people whether or not they have Graph Search (sponsored results have been globally available since August 2012). There are no new ad formats available today.
While Facebook has a number of tips on best case practise for page publication and fan acquisition which can be found here, there are things you need to keep in mind thanks to the Facebook Graph Search.
Howard Lo shares some great tips to set your business page up for search success in his article for zdnet.com
- Number of likes becomes more important–since search will begin with people connected to Pages, the more people liking your Page means more people connected and thus the higher frequency of showing in search results.
- Fill out Page fields properly–for your business Page, ensure each field is filled out with the relevant, properly-formatted information. Don’t try to create your own sub-category, follow the standards. Don’t put text into phone number fields. Facebook should be pulling lots of data from these fields.
- For the open-ended text in description fields, write copy that includes keywords, as if you’re writing copy for Google to “crawl”.
- Tag your photos with locations, such as your business, and dates–I wonder if there is opportunity here to somehow create searchable product catalogs.
- Tag your photos with a Page name (for example, my business Page is “Standing Sushi Bar”)–Assuming Facebook treats a photo where Standing Sushi Bar is tagged similarly to how it treats a tagged human, then “Show me photos of Standing Sushi Bar” would show photos tagged with Standing Sushi Bar. Slightly different than tagging location.
Graph Search will help the company prove to Wall Street that it can continue to exponentially grow another important metric: engagement. Better still, the product has the long-term potential to be a money-making machine. As Altimeter industry analyst Susan Etlinger told me, Graph Search will fill in the dots between the person, the brand, and the preference. This unlocks the potential for brands to provide people with relevant offers for things they actually want.
Facebook Graph Search & Advertising Opportunities
When it comes to advertising, we know that advertising linked to search, can be very profitable as Google has shown:
Where there’s discovery, there’s opportunity for sponsored discovery. Though there are no ads in Facebook’s new Graph Search engine yet, eventually Facebook could let advertisers pay to show their results above organic ones, just like on Google. CEO Mark Zuckerberg stressed “You build a good business by building something people want”, but said Facebook’s typeahead search ads “extend quite nicely to this.”
When I asked during the launch event’s Q&A where Facebook saw monetization opportunities in Graph Search, Zuckerberg explained the quality of the user experience comes first. Still, he admitted “This could potentially be a business over time.”
What do you feel needs to change as far as content, engagement and advertising considerations go with the new Facebook Graph Search change. What questions do you need answered?