What Facebook’s Graph Search Means For Marketers

by · January 16, 201333 comments

Facebook announced Tuesday it will be slowly rolling out Graph Search, a handy search mechanism to help you find more relevant information from your social graph on Facebook. So instead of going to Google and searching for a Chinese restaurant in Louisville, you could go to Facebook and search for a Chinese restaurant in Louisville my friends recommend.

Google presents you with prioritized results based on its determination of relevance. These factors include website traffic, inbound links, recentness of page and so on.  While Google’s social search features sometimes appear and give you additional information like whether or not someone in your social network has given a particular result a +1 on Google+, for many social search features have not proved useful or even present.

Facebook is now going to give you a way to see prioritized recommendations based on what your actual friends have said, done or recommended on Facebook. The data set is more limited, more meaningful and more relevant. 

All those years Mark Zuckerberg stared blankly at reporter’s questions about competition and said, “We’re working with Microsoft on Search,” truly was his way of saying, “We’re going to reinvent search and it’s going to be better and you’re going to love it and bite me.”

And he was right.

Granted, I’ve not seen Graph Search in full action yet, but if the execution follows the promise, search is now not something Google can safely say it owns. And Facebook’s search will be mighty compelling for many because of its relevancy.

For marketers, though, this evolution of the Facebook ecosystem of utility means one thing: You should have been investing in social media marketing all along. Without a strong social presence, particularly on Facebook, your business is not going to have the requisite recommendations, referrals and content necessary to trip this new search mechanism.  If you don’t have much presence or traction there now, you’d better get some and fast.

This also means Facebook just became more of a necessity for consumers than before. Lots of people have been wanting to know what the next Facebook will be? Here it is: Facebook with Graph Search.

I’m bullish on this new feature because Facebook is turning search into an extremely relevant and valuable experience for its customers. As a result, Google needs to worry. And worry a lot.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://www.puredriven.com Patrick Garmoe

    I think in some circumstances it will be amazing (like with restaurants and other local-esque sort of stuff.) But I’ve found in most situations my friends have no idea what I need information about. Hence I’m searching on Google. Rarely have I even found Google+ results with my expert circles to prove particularly valuable. I feel like the wisdom of the crowd of people I don’t know (Google) will always be better than the answers I can get from people I’m personally connected with on most technical issues. Hence while Google won’t lose much search steam in my opinion, Facebook may very well dominate local search information. The best part? A whole new platform for ads! Yeah!

  • abelniak

    What about the instances where me (or my friends) simply like a restaurant (as an example) to get a discount?  Now, when I (or they) search, there’s a better chance it shows up, and it’s likely interpreted as an endorsement.  But it couldn’t be further from an endorsement.  

    I *do* think this is a big deal. I’m just wondering if it’s going to be as useful as it appears topically.  I have some friends who have “likes” in the hundreds.  Do they actually “like” or endorse this company page?  Or was it a whimsical “yeah, that’s cool” click?  Facebook (to my knowledge) can’t (readily) differentiate that.  *If* they combine this with edgerank (as in, only show me likes in my search, BUT ALSO from my friends who have liked the pager AND interacted with/engaged it) – then that will be a little more useful.

    • http://www.boom-online.co.uk/ Amy Fowler

      And what about people who enter competitions? A Facebook comp almost always involves ‘liking’ a page to enter. That’s not an endorsement at all,,,,,

    • http://www.feldmancreative.com/ Barry Feldman

      What a great question. Really brings into play what does a like mean and what’s it worth? I suspect FB will have some new rating systems to lay on us when the search comes along.

  • http://twitter.com/MackeyLeah Leah Mackey Schultz

    Couldn’t agree more.  I’m excited that Facebook search finally looks like it will suck less.

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  • Wesley Picotte

    Given Facebook’s reach, social search has inarguable potential, and I think it’s a positive change. It’s waaaay too early write Google off, though, and that Facebook has rolled this feature out shouldn’t become [another] social pundit argument against SEO.

    In the end, both will have distinct utility. If Facebook pulls this off, it may indeed erode Google’s market share. Whatever happens, there are many, many search categories for which major search engines will continue to provide a superior results at a quantity that Facebook won’t touch.

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying Google should be written off. But they can’t offer this KIND of search. And if they could, they can’t offer it in Facebook’s environment. That’s a big problem.

      • Wesley Picotte

        Gotcha. No doubt, FBG (sweet, we needed a new acronym) is a real threat. If Google would just tear down the G+ garden walls, they’re game of catch-up in this regard would get a little easier.

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  • http://www.razchorev.com Raz Chorev

    Jason, you mentioned that if Facebook’s new feature is as good as they promise, “search is now not something Google can safely say it owns”. 
    Even if it is as good as they say, there is a LONG learning curve for facebook users to learn that they can search for certain information on their FB page. Not all information is available for search, even if Bing (2% market share) is involved. 
    It took Google a few years, and the word not only become synonymous with “search”, it actually became a verb. As impressive as the FB Social Graph search is (and I certainly believe it is impressive), I’m keen to see how long it would take to change people’s search behaviour… 

  • Katie

    I don’t know if this will take off as quickly and be as big of hit as people may think it will be. For one, this search actually requires your friends to “recommend” places. I know a lot of my friends may “like” a certain business, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they would recommend them to others. I know, for instance, with myself. I “like” my apartment complex to keep up with updates about what is going on, but trust me, that does not mean I would recommend them to anyone. Also, I think everyone is so used to just searching on google. It’ll be hard for another site to come in and take it’s place. Like honestly, how many people use Bing, Yahoo, or Ask.com? I’m definitely excited to try it out and see what it’s like, but google will probably continue to be my home page and search engine. 

    • Jason Bean

      Initially, Facebook may not delineate the difference between a “Like” and recommendation. But, it wouldn’t take much for them to add a star rating system to places, pages, interests in order to get that type of information from their users. Then look out Google+ Places reviews and Yelp.

      People have to actively leave a review at those locations to be helpful, but Facebook could combine comments and status updates related to those items with star ratings and immediately get recommendation data to present to someone without a single “official” review being written by a user.

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    good and useful posts regularly is a tough task. I mean you can easily share
    unnecessary and low quality content but you hardly find good content to share
    that suits your niche as well. Great share.

    • https://twitter.com/sanketpatel Sanket Patel

       Well, You can say that through many of content you might be get misunderstood. So to read right content is more necessary.

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  • http://www.seobywebmechanix.com Arsham Mirshah

    “Without a strong social presence, particularly on Facebook, your business is not going to… [insert pretty much anything positive here]”
    But this only REALLY effects B2C, right?  I mean, I’m not going on FB to search for accounting consultants.. or AM I?!

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  • Dara Khajavi

    This will be a fascinating change. Of course, there will be many complaints, but people will still continue using Facebook. There has been complaints each time there was a Facebook change. I do not even remember what the original Facebook was like. I am excited to see how this change will affect marketing. I am also curious to see if it will improve connections between people.

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  • nannasin smith

      it would take to change people’s search behaviour… 

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  • http://www.papersonthedot.co.uk/essay/ top custom essays service

    I have quite studied this Facebook’s graph analysis for Marketers.

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