Brad Brief | @bradbrief9 | Director, Social Media

Jan 17, 2013

Facebook Graph Search: What Does This Mean For Brands?

As we enter an age where change happens at an exponentially faster pace than each day before, it is ironically interesting to remember the wise words spoken long ago by Abraham Lincoln, “the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time”. Maintaining the Lincoln type of perspective these days seems ideal, as we are inundated with continual changes within the digital and social space, with the latest being the unveiling of Graph Search by Facebook on Tuesday.

The immediate reaction by many, including stock experts, was negative. From a social media perspective of what Graph Search means today, I can’t say that I entirely disagree. From a user perspective, is it that valuable to know which of your friends has hiked to Half Dome in Yosemite National Park or have gone to Disney World in the past year? This doesn’t seem to be something the public has been clamoring for, and certainly doesn’t have the instant user excitement of Facebook announcing Timeline, where there was a much clearer benefit for users. Any improvements to Facebook search will most likely be seen as a positive, given the need to upgrade that portion of the social platform. Although, Graph Search from a user perspective would at first glance not seem like a new feature that will be a significant hit with the Facebook audience.

However, when you add some Lincoln-like sensibility and begin looking to the future, the launch of Graph Search becomes much more significant—primarily for marketers. What Facebook is developing is a comprehensive search system within their wealth of data from their billion user base. Are they going to compete with Google for overall search, no—but that’s not the intention or the point. While Google is the unquestioned search leader throughout the web, there is an opportunity for Facebook to provide much improved search targeting within its own universe.

So, the big question is: what does this mean for your brand? There are two core areas that brands should be focusing on. First is optimizing not only user engagement within your page but now also working on Graph Search Optimizing your brand’s Facebook page as well. Yes, just as SEO is important within the web and Edge Rank Optimization can yield significantly improved engagement for your brand’s page, Graph Search Optimizing will help elevate your brand within Graph Search. It will become even more important to focus on what your brand page is promoting via social, even down the granular level of an increasingly detailed “About” page. For your brand to get the most benefit from your Facebook marketing efforts it’s now beyond content schedules, but really the need will be for an overall Social Monitoring/Management strategy that takes into account content strategy, Edge Rank optimization and ultimately Graph Search Optimization as well. While this may seem complicated at times, the long term benefit will be worth it.

The second core areas for brands will be within social search. With Graph Search it will start to bring search intent into the Facebook targeting world which could be an extremely beneficial element for advertisers. To use the previous Disney example: if a Facebook user searches for which of their friends have gone to Disney World they could in turn be served up ads featuring specials for a trip to Magic Kingdom. The bottom line is the long term benefit of adding intent as another layer of targeting onto the Facebook advertising platform and hence creating more opportunity for marketers.

Graph Search will be interesting to watch as it begins to roll out. Currently, the release is limited and user engagement will help determine the eventual success and potential of this feature. This is something that we’ll have to evaluate and monitor in the upcoming months and see where the future of Graph Search is truly headed. This is a future that we, much like Lincoln did, will have to also take one day at a time.