Wondering how Facebook’s Graph Search will change how you, your business, and your customers use the social network?
First announced Tuesday, January 15, 2013, Graph Search is currently in beta, though likely to roll out to all Facebook users in early April. (Want it sooner? You can request early access here.) It’s a social search engine within Facebook that allows you to query photos, places, pages, restaurants, bands, interests – the list goes on – that your friends or fans have liked, recommended, visited, and shared, or that are simply in your area and relate to the search terms you've provided.
So, what do you need to know? We've put together some tips for what to expect, how you can prepare, and what it means for your business Facebook page.
What to Expect from Graph Search
The look of your Facebook page will change a bit. Your “search bar” will appear at the very top of your Facebook page. (You can watch this video to see the full “Graph Search” experience.)
At the onset, results will be organic based on your personal network, but we expect the ability to create sponsored results is not far off.
Bing technology has been integrated with Graph Search, so regular web results are pulled in depending on the search terms. Facebook-related search results will appear first, with web results following. You can differentiate between the result types by the icons:
Graph Search is a recommendation engine – providing searchers the opportunity to use natural language in their search terms to find out, for example, whether or not their friends recommend a certain brand (Ex: “Friends who like Gremln”). Searchers can also seek out other interests that align with their own (Ex: “Movies liked by my female friends who like Gremln”). The possibilities are seemingly endless – be creative with your searches and you can learn a host of information about your friends, fans, and customers.
How to Prepare for Graph Search
Graph Search provides “search” results after all, so think like you do when beefing up your website for Search Engine Optimization. To optimize your Facebook page, make sure you use the right keywords in all the right places. Is your “About” section is up to date and accurate, including your location, categories, sub categories, and business type? Facebook gives you the opportunity to provide a short description, full description, mission statement, company website, products, awards, general information, and company overview – take advantage of it!
Graph Search is admittedly photo heavy, so optimize your upcoming content to include more photos. Links are great for getting traffic back to your website, but photos are what will help you rank higher in Graph Search results. Mix it up! Post a balance of links to keep your fans coming to your company’s website as well as photos to secure your place in Graph Search results. (Be sure to tag and add descriptions to all your photos, so Facebook knows how to categorize them.)
Graph Search takes current privacy settings into account, so your personal photos, check-ins, likes, and other Facebook activity will only be shared to the extent that you've made them public to your personal network – whether that means friends only, or completely public. Facebook users age 13-17 will only appear in the Graph Search results of their own friends, not the network at large, in keeping with Facebook’s safety and privacy rules.
What Graph Search Means for Your Business Page
Continue to extend your reach. You can’t show up in search results unless people actually “Like” your business page. So, ask your followers to share your posts with their network, consider some sponsored posts or Facebook advertising, and get noticed.
You can use Graph Search to find out more about your customers. For example, a graph search for “things that have been liked by fans of Gremln” tells us that our fans are also like Facebook Marketing, Target, and Amazon. (They also like Family Guy, The Hangover III, and Levi’s. Go figure.)