Bring on Facebook graph search - a new social media tool that's poised to change the search landscape forever. What exactly is Facebook's newest search function, which has the power to put your Facebook page in front of more consumers than ever?
The power of graph search for small businesses
Graph search is an upgrade to Facebook's existing search tool that will allow users to search for people, places and things using natural language queries. Instead of just matching on keywords, Facebook graph scans though one's network of Facebook friends, their friends and even the general public with the use of a semantic search engine that matches phrases and objects on the site.
This new style of searching will allow users to create more personalised queries that are relevant to them. For example, instead of searching Google for "Thai restaurants in Sydney" you could ask Facebook graph search, "Which Thai restaurants do my friends in Sydney like?" Since people are more likely to take advice from their friends and family, you can see how beneficial graph search can be for your business and brand.
Predicted to eclipse other local search engines
Because Facebook graph search replicates some of the local search functionality provided by other sites like LinkedIn, Foursquare and Yelp, some experts are predicting that a mobile version of the tool could eventually replace sites like these as searchers look to their Facebook friends for recommendations on restaurants, hotels and other local businesses.
Graph search is especially adept at answering questions to the tune of "Show me what my friends like," making it a powerful word-of-mouth marketing tool, which is, according to a study by Nielsen1, the most trusted form of advertising around.
Making the most of Facebook graph search
As more consumers start to take advantage of the functionality of graph search, be sure that your page is ready to handle the increased visibility and traffic. Here are some tips to get your page in shape, if it isn't already:
Check all of your contact details and fill in any incomplete fields such as description, about, etc.
Make sure your privacy settings are set to the most visible possible. Allow users to post photos and make comments to your page to encourage engagement.
Manage the quality of posts and comments on your page by checking your activity log.
Encourage users to share their location and add a review.
Targeted marketing with graph search
In addition to helping customers find you, graph search can also help you find customers. For example, let's say you operate a local pet supply store. You could run a search on people who have pets with a query like, "Show me people in Canberra who like dogs (or cats, or birds, etc)." While you should be careful not to come off as too direct or intrusive by asking people to like your page, you could use these results to run an ad campaign or promotion targeted at these individuals.
Offer promotions to build traffic
Speaking of promotions, it's also a great idea to regularly offer discounts and specials on your Facebook page as this encourages people to visit and tell their friends and family. The bigger your network, the better, as this will increase your visibility in graph search results.
With graph search being such a new feature, expect a few blips here and there. But overall, graph search is already showing great potential to help small businesses get their brand in front of more consumers than ever. The best way to get familiar with it is to activate it and start using it yourself.
This article represents the views of the author only and not those of American Express.
Kathleen has a degree in marketing with over 10 years experience in the IT field as a database developer and web designer. As a freelance writer, Kathleen has written for several publications across Australia as well as for various business and hi-tech blogs online.