Facebook Graph Search: Both Sides of the Coin

by Cindy_Zeis

Ok, so maybe you’ve heard the buzz about Facebook’s new Graph Search which has currently launched in Beta (short for not open to everyone yet while we work out the bugs).  If you haven’t heard of it, let this be a brief introduction to what this search tool is all about, what it isn’t about and why and how it’s a different search tool which has a unique set of strategies outside of typical SEO.  Some people are already calling it GSO for Graph Search Optimization.  I think the difference is relevant so we’ll take a look at this from both sides of the coin, as a business user and end user (customer/client)

First, lets talk about the typical search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and the like from the searchee or business perspective.  We’re used to targeting key words or key phrases we think our audience will most likely search for.  With all of the information gathered through the search engine database, we’re able to create very specific content (articles, videos, podcasts, etc…) that is based around the key words (both short and long tail) associated with the audience you’re trying to cater to.  We’re then able to reach out in to the world and make ourselves known.

As the searcher, I tend to use search engines as an education tool and to find local businesses.  I would tend to put in terms like “how to cure a toothache” or “holistic dentists on Long Island.”  I can do my research and find a local resource from an educated perspective.  I can use it to enhance my education or write a report.  I can research forums to find people of like minds, videos, images and about a billion or so other bits of information relative to the topic I’m researching.  I tend to use Google, but that’s just my personal preference. 

Where Facebook’s Graph Search differentiates itself from other search engines is it’s more personalized (for lack of a better term).  We’ve given Facebook so much data on ourselves over the years and now they’re taking all of what we’ve been “liking,” and posting about to simply (ok, not underestimating the work that goes in to coding) creating a search algorithm that allows us to find resources that are connected to the people and businesses we’re connected to on Facebook.  Where this gets tricky, is if you don’t realize how elaborate the Facebook system is then you may not realize all the passive connections you’ve made.  We get it when we “like” a business page or “friend” someone but after that things get really wild.  Now we’re connected to friends of friends and get tagged in photos and, and, and…

If this scares you, it shouldn’t.  There are ways you can disconnect yourself from those embarrassing pictures you may not want a potential employer to see, or past love interests and so on.  Instead of getting too deep in to all that (and you’ll get your share of fearful posting and all that) let’s just take a look from a functional perspective again, as a business and as an end user.

As a business owner, if you’ve done your due diligence, have set up your page properly, and haven’t used some very wrong business tactics (buying likes, etc…) then you’re already set up for success with graph search.  Just engage your audience and get them commenting and liking and all that other stuff just as you should be doing.  There will be the haters out there who swear this is ruining their business but more than likely it’s only because they weren’t set up right and don’t use Facebook to its full potential already.  How do I know all this?  Well silly, I’ve made the mistakes!  Isn’t that how we learn?  Oh, and believe me…for local businesses you’re going to be finding out real quick if your social media “expert” did their job right or sold out for some quick fix “tactics” that are out there.  If you’re not sure you might want to give me a ring.

As a Facebook user, the new search can be really great.  I can do some fun stuff like look up embarrassing pictures from the 70′s of my friends.  Watch some silly videos that my friends like and so on.  I can also use it to find out where I might want to eat on a Saturday night based on what my associates (may be a more accurate term than friend) on Facebook are saying.  If my friend Sally down the street checked in at a good steak house, maybe I’ll want to try it out.  If I like it, then I’ll “like” their page and check in from their restaurant, effectively giving them the good ol’ Facebook thumbs up.  The Google search I performed a while ago now may look something like… “holistic dentists my friends like,” or “holistic dentists in my area.”  Facebook knows who I am, where I am and who my friends are so searching has taken a more personal and laid back tone.  This doesn’t mean that I’ll only get results from Facebook, their connection with Bing will make sure I get both in house (on Facebook) and off the web details.

Where all of this can run amuck, is a whole lot of people out here are not using all of the functions of Facebook.  So, in the early stages I suspect we’ll have some stuff we’ll want to weed through and maybe even start using some of the functions we didn’t even realize existed.  The bottom line, as always, is if you don’t like it the don’t use it.  We all have the right to bail out of using Facebook at any time.  What I’ve seen in the past however is people will post away about how they’re offended by what Facebook is doing and say they’re going to quit only to stick around and squabble about it.  Ahhh…yeah, not my style.  But, I do believe that with anything an educated consumer is the best type of consumer and Facebook definitely has a lot to consume.  So, do your due diligence and take a look for yourself.  Below you’ll find the full 45 minute keynote speech where Facebook covers their new tool in full detail.  Just click on video box below…

I love to talk about marketing and neat new tools. Get updates delivered to your email for free!

Previous post: