Yesterday Facebook Graph Search launched and our phones were ringing as clients understandably want to know more about it. While we completely understand our client’s interest in Graph Search, we are in the process of gathering as much information as possible. It would be premature to provide a robust list of recommendations for how to get more exposure from Graph Search. For the time being, I would point you to recommendations directly from Facebook about how to help people discover your business. With that caveat out of the way, we have been monitoring the news closely and have some important points we want to address.
What is Facebook Graph Search?
Facebook Graph Search allows you to search for people, places and things by leveraging your existing friend data and publicly shared information of non-friends. Keep in mind that this is an incredible amount of data which allows you to search in new ways. For instance, you couldn’t search in Google for restaurants in East Lansing, MI liked by your friends who went to Michigan State University. Graph Search also has many non-commercial benefits. You can now search for photos, videos, and music that friends have liked. It is in beta right now, but expect it to be available to everyone soon.
What does this mean for your business?
We believe that Graph Search is helpful for certain kinds of businesses. Most of the examples of how to use Graph Search involve businesses like restaurants, retail and some services. You can easily imagine how this will benefit restaurant owners and encourage them to solicit likes. However, it’s unclear how Graph Search benefits other kinds of businesses. People tend to think of search in purely positive ways – find a restaurant, a boutique, a place to dance, etc. In reality people have a lot of interactions with businesses that they might now want to announce to the world. Facebook users are far less likely to “like” their bankruptcy attorney or rehabilitation clinic even if the experience was positive. We work with a lot of B2B clients. I don’t know how many opportunities will be available on Graph Search for businesses that aren’t particularly interested in targeting individual consumers.
What does this mean for Google and other online marketing portals?
We do not believe this presents a meaningful challenge to Google’s dominance in the search space. We still believe that in six months, Google’s share of the search market will not change very much. We believe that Graph Search is fundamentally different than Google search and agree with Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land who said,
“It remains very early, but I already find it fascinating the types of searches this is allowing me to do, searches I hadn’t contemplated before. It reminds me of how in the past, we wouldn’t have thought of doing things like YouTube searches or Twitter searches, since we didn’t have those resources. Now, we search at these places for unique needs. Facebook is a great repository of data, and it finally has a search catching up to all it knows.”
We especially like the YouTube and Twitter comparisons. Google’s stated mission is to, “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Graph Search, like Youtube and Twitter, has a far less grandiose mission. Graph Search isn’t interested in organizing all the “world’s information.” They simply want to help you search for nice things your friends are interested in and use Facebook’s data to make their website more useful.
We believe that Graph Search has a bigger impact on other websites. Yelp’s stock dropped 8.5% after the announcement of Graph Search before rebounding later in the day to close down 5.9%. Getting reviews from your friends or friends of friends is more appealing than reviews from total strangers. Others have noted that Graph Search also presents a strong challenge to LinkedIn. It’s easy to see how people would use Graph Search the same way they use LinkedIn today to interact with professionals. We would still be surprised if these popular websites are dramatically impacted by Graph Search. We still recommend pursuing positive Yelp reviews and keeping and updated LinkedIn Business Profile.
What Recommendations Can Evolving Interactive Make at This Time?
We work with our clients to develop fan acquisition strategies. Graph Search only makes a comprehensive fan acquisition strategy more important. The same way SEO evaluates websites by the quality and quantity of links, Graph Search will be impacted by the quantity of “likes.” For more information on how to develop a strategy for your business, contact us anytime.