Decoding Graph Search
Since Facebook announced the launch of their social search functionality, known as graph search, inbound marketers everywhere have been curious about the implications behind it. Stated Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg at the press conference, “Graph search is the kind of product we love to build at Facebook — we’re really proud of it.” If the product works as promised, consumers could find themselves able to receive word-of-mouth recommendations straight from their laptops. Curious where your friends in San Francisco like to purchase their lattes? Graph search can answer that question.
Available only in beta mode to a select group of English speakers, the goal is to combine the who, what and where of search. While we’re still waiting for our own invites to start exploring the platform, we’ve developed some predictions on just how graph search could impact your inbound marketing strategy:
1. Social Search Can Be Geo-Targeted
Prior to social search, geo-targeted social media marketing was a bit tougher. Marketers had to focus on localized promotions and geo-targeted Twitter tools to find the right followers and fans in their area. The fact that consumers will now be able to discover brands by geo-targeting graph search queries could make life a great deal easier for hyper-local marketers.
2. Your Persona and Market Research Will Be Streamlined
Whether you’re working on a buyer persona profile or doing research on the kinds of customers you want to attract, graph search offers a lot of insight into consumer preferences and habits. Searching “Chinese Restaurants liked by Harvard Students” can provide insight within seconds to a restaurant owner on how his or her Facebook presence and reputation are stacking up against the competition.
3. Brand Partnerships Could Change
If you’re hoping to develop brand partnerships, graph search offers the potential for business owners to gain consumer insight. Inbound Marketer Lauren Barraco explains that social search queries like “handbags liked by BMW owners” can be strong starting places for discovering targets for strategic partnerships.
4. Fan Numbers Matter More
Ultimately, your total number of Facebook fans will matter much more if graph search gains popularity and becomes a means for discovering brands, products, and services. According to Dr. Robin Grant of We Are Social, for a company to appear in graph search at all, the individual doing the search will need to have a friend who likes the page. Not only does graph search effectively drive the value of fake likes down even further, the search increases incentive for companies to increase their network through contests.
5. Disengaged Fans Gain Value
Disengaged Facebook fans are the bane of social brands. While a large segment of your fans may like your page, they don’t interact with the content through likes, comments, or shares. It’s more common than many of us realize—research by marketing thinktank Ehrenberg-Bass Institute reveals that 99% of Facebook fans don’t interact with a brand in a given month. Graph search could significantly increase the value of these quieter, less visible fans. Even if a given Facebook user has never liked a single post, their friends could gain exposure to your products and services through graph search query.
The truth is, no one really knows how Facebook’s steps towards making search social will affect the way consumers connect with brands. It’s a fact that people are influenced by friends in their purchase decisions. If the social search functionality proves effective, it could overtake Google in the years to come. While little is crystal-clear, it is apparent that if your brand has been putting off an active Facebook presence, the time is right to start engaging and increasing your likes.
How do you think graph search will affect inbound marketers?