Just a few days ago, Facebook announced a revamped search feature for the site: Graph Search. While in limited beta right now, it will change the way we use the social network once it’s rolled out to the masses.
The search bar will no longer be a way to quickly find a person or page you’re already connected to; it will be more focused on discovery. For example, you could search for your friends’ favorite restaurants or people in the area with similar interests as you.
But in addition to changing the way we use the network, it will change the way we market our businesses. Graph Search is focused on discovery, so obviously you will want to do everything you can to make sure your business is being discovered.
So how exactly will Graph Search affect online marketers? This is how we see it:
A robust presence on Facebook will become even more important.
It’s been made very clear that Graph Search is not a search engine in the same sense that Google or Bing is. Facebook’s goal is to help you find the answer you’re looking for, not provide you with links to go look for it yourself. Its default is not to search the web, but to search the massive amount of content held in Facebook’s social graph: Likes, photos, people, etc. It’s only when searching the social graph yields no results that Graph Search will search the web, through a partnership with Bing.
Now more than ever, it’s not enough to simply have a Facebook page for your business. It needs content, it needs photos, and most of all, it needs an audience. There’s been a lot of talk in the marketing world about how ‘Likes’ are overrated. While it’s true that they’re not the best measure of engagement, they’re still the gateway to engagement. With Graph Search, it will also be the gateway to discovery. Your business’ page will be more likely to come up in a person’s search results if their friends are connected to your page. Think of Facebook Likes as link building for Graph Search (although be sure to stay away from black hat methods in both search and social!).
Get ready to advertise…eventually
While Mark Zuckerberg made it clear that Graph Search will be ad-free for awhile, it would be crazy for them not to monetize it in the future. They have already monetized search with the Sponsored Results search ads they introduced last summer. Once Facebook does away with the existing search function, what happens to that revenue stream? Facebook will need something to take its place.
I think TechCrunch says it best: “Where there’s discovery, there’s opportunity for sponsored discovery.” As we pointed out in our article about Sponsored Results, one of the problems with that advertising model was that people didn’t use the search bar for discovery as much as Facebook seemed to think. Graph Search will definitely help with that. Mashable has already posted a gallery of possible search queries, and the insight is fascinating.
Plus, the targeting available is enough to make any online marketer’s mouth water.
Looking to the future
These implications are only from looking at what was introduced to us on Tuesday. Facebook hasn’t even told us how Instagram or Open Graph and Facebook Apps will be incorporated into Graph Search yet.
Where do you see Facebook working these features into Graph Search? Let us know in the comments!
- Facebook’s Graph Search – What You Need to Know
- 5 Changes You Need to Make to Your Visual Content on Facebook
By Brittany Berger