Facebook’s move into search has finally arrived, not in the form that many had expected, but with Facebook Graph Search. Many people are claiming that “Google should be quaking in its boots” with the news of this release. Personally, I’ve decided to write this short article, as I disagree. I want to take the chance to explore exactly what Facebook’s new feature is, how it differs from Google and, most importantly, how businesses can benefit.
Why is Facebook Graph Search different from Google?
Outside of GCSE Maths and Excel, the term ‘Graph’ being used in this context always tends to confuse me. In layman terms, when Facebook uses the term ‘Graph’, it means something that represents connections between objects. Facebook Graph Search allows for increased social discovery. In other words, I could perform a search on a topic and see results from my direct friendship circles, friends of friends and beyond. This is potentially very powerful for both businesses and users.
Some search examples:
- What photos have I liked in the past year?
- Show me people that went to Portsmouth University between 2007-2010
- Show me restaurants that my friends like in London
How this differs from Google is pretty simple – Google’s bots search and return results from the entire web, while Facebook Graph Search is purely internal.
How can Businesses Benefit?
The volume of data now available to businesses provides some interesting opportunities. We will no doubt see an increase in users searching for recommendations, places friends have visited or even people in a certain area with specific interests; People in Billericay, Essex that enjoy cycling, for example. This increase means that businesses will need to become more active on Facebook. Whether this activity comes in the form of engagement, content or competitions, businesses must understand how they can increase engagement with their audiences.
On an advertising front, Facebook is keeping quiet. However, I believe that if a user can search for “People that used to work at Google but are now employed by Facebook”, then an advertiser could use a similar search when creating their audience targeting.
In my opinion, businesses must be proactive towards the upcoming shift in Facebook by reassessing their strategy. Firstly, they must understand WHY they are/want to be active. Secondly, they need to think about HOW they plan to engage their current or potential audiences. Facebook Graph Search is currently only available in the US, with rumours that it will hit our shores within the next few months. Although many of its features remain unclear, we are very excited to see what this new feature will bring to both users and businesses once released.
You can register your interest in Facebook Graph Search here.
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