Photo Credit: Facebook Graph Search announcement image from CNET
In a bold move, Tuesday, Facebook revealed a dramatically new kind of search technology that may well level the playing field between Facebook and its rival Google +. Named Graph Search, Facebook's new search engine technology allows users to filter the vast quantities of information stored about their friends and other connections on Facebook to discover new ways of connecting with people based on shared interests, common places of interest, and similar tastes. What does Graph Search mean for your business?
"Graph Search is a new way for you to find people, photos, places and interests that are most relevant to you on Facebook."
For all intents and purposes this is Facebook's answer to the "social search" experience provided by Google+.
But rather than pulling information from throughout the Internet including all indexed search results in existence, Facebook's Graph Search pulls its results from your connections on its service.
Some are suggesting that Facebook has an advantage in this arena due to the fact that there is still less widespread adoption and use of Google+. With the Google + service continuing to grow at a rapid pace this remains to be seen.
Still, savvy users and marketers should pay attention to this new development from Facebook.
How Will Graph Search Work?
While the service is still in a beta mode limited rollout according to Facebook (and thus this is based on Facebook's announcement only), it will focus on four key areas in order to measure social connection and relevancy.
1) Searching for content
The Facebook search engine (which uses Microsoft Bing technology rather than Google's search engine), will allow users to type long tail search queries using fairly normal language. In terms that we can all wrap our heads around, we would be able to search for things like 'all my friends in Tampa, FL' or 'doctor's my friends like'. From a marketing standpoint this could be used to target all kinds of content posted by customers, including music, videos, Facebook updates, and more. This is huge for content marketers! I'll talk about that more in a moment.
2) People search
Facebook's new search graph function will take into account many user interests historical data locations etc. Really, anything that's in Facebook's database about a person appears to be fair game. It appears that this will be a function that allows people to actively search out and network with people they want to communicate with outside of the list of people they currently know.
This raises a question however, as in the past when people attempted to connect with people they didn't already know, they have been penalized by Facebook if those requests were denied. Perhaps Facebook intends to revamp the process for connecting with new friends outside of one's circle of already known acquaintances.
3) Business search
Not surprisingly, Facebook's Graph Search has implications for business search as well. When searching on Google for a business, in the past your results have been influenced primarily by businesses that have done the best search engine optimization (SEO). More recently, Google search results have begun taking social search into consideration, boosting the position of businesses and websites connected to you via its social network, author rank, etc.
Facebook Graph Search takes this to a whole new level by pulling results based on what your friends have liked, where your friends have checked in, and the like, to deliver what it considers the most relevant search results.
What This Means For Marketers
While this remains in beta test mode and has not rolled out to the general public marketers need to begin considering the implications of Facebook's Graph Search experience, as well as considering a few questions that have not yet been answered.
In addition to the concerns I mentioned previously, there are of course privacy issues at stake by being able to search all kinds of Facebook content. It's a good time to review your Facebook privacy settings to ensure when you post content it is going only to the audience you wish to see it. According to Facebook, people will only be able to see search results they've already been given access to. That said, this will be important to keep an eye on as Facebook actually rolls out Graph Search for more users.
Social media is not going away anytime soon. Facebook's Graph Search has made it clear that social media's importance is only going to increase not decrease nor go away. If you still think that, it's time to get your head out of the sand <grin>, and begin developing viable strategies for your business to be seen and to be recognized as a valuable by your customers and prospects. Otherwise, quite frankly, your business will cease to exist.
Additionally, as I have talked about many times recently, content continues to be incredibly important to marketers from an inbound marketing perspective! This further emphasizes that point. I can't emphasize enough how much your content on social media matters! The quality and quantity of content you deliver to your audience is playing an increasingly important role in whether your prospects even find you let alone what their opinion is of your business before they ever make contact with you!
How the competition between Google + and Facebook plays out remains to be seen. One thing remains clear, however. The connection between content marketing and social media continues to be strengthened on a regular basis. Marketers who ignore this fact could easily be dooming their businesses to failure.
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