When Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook’s Graph Search earlier this year, he said it would revolutionize the way people searched for information on products and services. Though Facebook’s newest feature is still young, the potential capabilities of Graph Search, particularly its reliance on micro-targeting, make the search engine a key player in the future of search marketing.
To deliver search results, Graph Search combines all the information provided in users’ Facebook profiles — including their “About Me” information, location data, posts and “likes”, etc. — in a massive data pool. Then, whenever a user performs a search, Graph Search references that collected data from the user’s friends and displays hyper-relevant results for that user.
For example, when a 28-year old living in Boston “likes” a dealer’s Facebook page, his information is put into the search data pool. If one of his friends searches, “Where’s a good place in Boston to buy a new car?” they will see the dealership their friend “liked” — and they will see their friend’s name displayed right next to the search result.
This ability to provide specific, personal search results has powerful implications for Facebook’s Graph Search. Recommendations from friends and family members can be the deciding factor in choosing a product or service, and Graph Search incorporates those endorsements right into their results page, ultimately making their results the most reliable on the web (assuming, of course, that users and their friends share the same tastes). By focusing on targeted advertising, Facebook Graph Search can deliver more significant results than any other search engine.
Local businesses especially will benefit from Graph Search’s micro-targeting capabilities. Now, instead of getting buried in competitive search rankings, small businesses can rely on Graph Search to find and display their page to users who are the most likely to be interested in their product or service. Ultimately, Graph Search will allow these businesses to better hone their targeting to the best potential customers, helping to increase their ROI.
Yet Graph Search can also help businesses, and especially brands, in other ways. Because of its unique search function, Graph Search can be used as a research tool, providing information about the personality of consumers. For example, Ford could search for people who like their product and like something else, and use that information to better target their customers. Graph Search could also be used to find new customers with a search such as “people who live in Boston and like Ford”.
With that in mind, it’s worth noting that the success of Graph Search ultimately relies upon pro-active Facebook users. For Graph Search to operate effectively, users need to actually “like” businesses, fill out their profile fully, follow their favorite bands, etc., and if users don’t participate on Facebook, it makes the entire search process less effective.
In order to get the most benefit from Facebook Graph Search, businesses will need to keep all their data current and make sure the content on their Pages is both useful and relevant. On the storefront, businesses should make sure customers know their Facebook URL and encourage people to “like” them. Providing quality customer service and maintaining loyal relationships with customers will motivate people to “like” a business online.
Although it is too early to determine whether or not Facebook Graph Search is going to be the success that some believe it to be, there’s no doubt that it has succeeded in shaking up things in the search engine community.