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16th January 2013 |  Written by Justin Butcher

How Businesses Should Prepare For Facebook Graph Search

facebookgraphsearchAs news of the announcement of the imminent arrival of Facebook Graph Search sinks in, business owners in the UK will be wondering what they need to do now to make sure they are visible in this new social search engine once it starts to roll out in the coming weeks and months. Here is our guide to what we know about Facebook Graph Search so far and what you need to do to ensure you are not missing out on this potentially huge future opportunity to increase your business’s online exposure as the new search facility is rolled out.

What is Facebook Graph Search?

Facebook’s new search function will eventually turn Facebook into a huge recommendations engine. The results returned by a Facebook search will differ from a Google search in that a search for say, restaurants in Manchester, will return the Facebook presences (ie business or place pages) of restaurants in Manchester rather than a list of links to relevant business websites as a Google search would do.

In addition, and most crucially, the results returned will be shown according to the information your business has shared on Facebook and how the searcher’s friends have interacted with your business within Facebook (eg likes or check-ins). Facebook have also stated that they intend to index everything that has ever been shared on Facebook, although information that searchers can see about individuals will still be governed by your own privacy settings.

The Potential Benefits For Businesses

Since recommendations by peers tend to be trusted more than recommendations of strangers, “conversion rates” from Facebook Graph Search are potentially very high. Savvy businesses and marketers will be seeing this as a huge opportunity to gain extra business online by encouraging more engagement with their Facebook presences.

If you don’t currently have any Facebook presence, or have a presence but are not investing time and effort into it, then now is the time to do so. This is especially true for B2C businesses.

The Importance For Local and Mobile Search

facebookgraphsearch2As local search will be available right from the start of the Facebook Graph Search roll out, businesses which currently benefit from high visibility from their local SEO efforts should certainly be looking into investing time and resources into their Facebook pages. Initially at least, this is the main area where Facebook may make some small inroads into Google’s search dominance.

Since mobile and local search go hand in hand, as users get used to Graph Search they will increasingly use it to find the local businesses recommended by their friends while they’re out and about and looking for places to go.

How To Optimise For Facebook Graph Search

Facebook have already given some tips on how to optimise for Facebook Graph Search. The main advice is:

  • The name, vanity url and “about” information all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook
  • Local place pages should have an up to date address to ensure you show for local searches
  • Work on your business pages in order to attract likes and shares and incentivise check-ins to your physical location to increase the likelihood of appearing in certain searches

In addition to the points above, Facebook maintains its relationship with Bing which will serve search results when Facebook Graph Search cannot answer a query. It would therefore be a good idea to look into your current visibility in Bing and how you can improve it if necessary.

The Early Limitations

Facebook Graph Search is not (yet) an attempt to go head to head with Google in the search market, they have wisely decided to launch a product which plays to their strengths and which they can gradually build on over time. The information searchers see is limited by privacy settings. Also the fact that not everybody who uses Facebook will “like” or interact with every business they come into contact with (and that some users choose not to interact with business pages at all) means that there will be an initial “connection gap”; there will be businesses that searchers’ friend do like, they just haven’t interacted with them on Facebook.

However, it will be interesting to see how Graph Search changes user behaviour. After all, users like to make themselves look good on social media and one way to increase their social status is to try and influence their friend’s decisions in a way which leads to a positive outcome. This desire for social kudos could be a strong incentive for users to recommend more businesses as they come into contact with them.

What Can Your Business Do To Prepare?

The first thing is to assess your current Facebook presence. If you think Graph Search represents a future opportunity for your business and are worried by your lack of Facebook presence or customer engagement with your current business page, please contact us on 0845 8622122 in order to arrange a review by one of our social media team.

Please also feel free to let us know what you think about Facebook Graph Search in the comments below, we’d be interested to get your thoughts.

Your Comments

  1. Most of the businesses today are conceptualizing their strategies for a better content marketing, especially after Panda and Penguin, which is the norm today. Facebook graph is going to take that a step further and a lot more evolution is going to be seen in the coming days in this area.

  2. Good post Justin,

    I like the sound of search with Facebook. As a marketer I hate the personalised results just because it complicates things for us, but as a user I think it adds real value. Being able to see how many people have checked in there gives a good indication of popularity, as do likes.

    However, I find it hard to see how it could overtake Google Places as a local search provider for three reasons. (1) At the moment there’s no form of structured reviews on Facebook – all that’s available are likes and check-ins. Personally I like to read someones review if I’m looking for social corroboration. (2) Google Local and Google Maps works particularly well on Mobile, and it’s only one click to get to a map. On facebook it’s 2 or 3. (3) Organic search brings together so many different metrics; social, link popularity, on site, reviews, listings, places etc. I believe it gives us a much truer representation of a business that measuring only Fbook metrics – although this wouldn’t apply to a lot of people. And lastly, (4) If I want to see how my friends are doing I go to facebook. If I want to search for something, muscle memory means I’ve typed in google.co.uk before I’ve thought about what I’m looking for. A different intent takes us to each platform.

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