Facebook’s announcement of Graph Search, its revolutionary new search tool, has set the online marketing community atwitter. Talk of Graph Search being a “Google killer” seems premature, but it will have a significant impact on online marketing, particularly within search and SEO.
Graph Search has major implications on the amount of ad revenue Facebook can potentially generate. It opens up new opportunities for Facebook to serve paid search results similar to those in the major search engines, in addition to its display-style ads.
As Graph Search evolves, brand marketers will have to adjust their social media marketing strategies to capitalize on search marketing opportunities.
Opportunities for Brands
The biggest new opportunity for brands brought on by Graph Search is specific to those with physical locations of businesses. Since users can filter their results by location, it’s important that marketers ensure the business address is up to date.
Graph Search returns a number of different types of results, including people, Pages, apps, places, groups and suggested searches. Brands can own multiple results for the same search, limiting the presence of competitors.
From a paid advertising standpoint, it’s likely that Facebook will introduce sponsored search results in Graph Search. To date, paid its advertising consisted of display-style advertising, serving ads to users based on their demographics, Likes and the content they click on. This is a passive form of advertising. Graph Search opens the potential for advertisers to bid on keywords that users search, similar to the way the major search engines leverage paid search advertising. This allows advertisers to use Facebook to target people who actually have intent to buy.
Challenges for Brands
Graph Search does not return results external to Facebook. Because of this, brands must build and maintain a sustainable and proactive social presence on Facebook to capitalize on this new breakthrough in search.
Because Likes and engagement of a business page play an important role in a brand’s Graph Search visibility, marketers must develop new ways to incentivize consumers and integrate their social media efforts across all digital marketing channels. This also affects the internal structure of cross-channel marketing teams.
How Brands Can Leverage Graph Search
The first step is to help Facebook find a brand’s business page. Connections, Likes, check-ins and other data Facebook has collected about a business play a role in how a page can perform in Graph Search. In order to increase a business page’s visibility, marketers must understand the algorithm and optimize the pages.
Business pages (and other Facebook assets) must be up to date for maximum visibility and sustainability. There are four main areas to optimize: business name, category, vanity URL and the About section.
Graph Search will place a strong emphasis on endorsements. Specifically, the more Facebook users “Like” a brand’s business page, the higher the brand’s page will rank in search results, especially when a higher percentage of those liking the page are within the user’s personal network.
It’s important for digital marketers to allocate resources to increasing a brand’s number of Likes. Target existing customers because they already have a relationship with the brand. And it increases the likelihood of their friends finding the brand’s page.
It is unclear when Graph Search will begin to roll out to all Facebook users, but there is currently a beta version that can be tested with an invite. In order to gain access to the beta version of Graph Search, an invite can be requested by clicking the “Join Waiting List” button at the bottom of this page.
Graph Search isn’t the Google killer some predicted. But it is a powerful new tool for search marketers. Welcome to the first iteration of the social-search era of online marketing.