Yesterday, Facebook announced its latest offering, Graph Search. Essentially, it’s a search tool that uses your social network and interactions to produce results that are more relevant to you. It’s the first product of its kind and has important implications for marketers and business owners.
Marketers: Here’s What You Need to Know
1. Time To Come Clean: Most importantly, you’ve got to claim and clean up your brand on Facebook. This includes making sure all your information is complete, up-to-date and optimized for search. If you have physical locations, make sure they have a correct address and phone number — this is especially important for searches on information related to a specific location. If you have multiple locations, it’s a good time to look into an agency who can setup Facebook Parent-Child linking between your brand page and claim all of your location pages.
2. Optimize Your Profile Photo: Search results will display a higher resolution photo than before, so you should update your photo to 620×620 pixel resolution.
3. Share media content directly to Facebook. Graph Search can only index items (photos, videos) that are posted via Facebook or a third party tool such as Hootsuite. That means some important content, like links to YouTube videos won’t get indexed. At a minimum, you should take your most important Youtube videos and upload them to your Facebook page.
4. Facebook Nearby will become increasingly important, not because it’s better than Yelp or Foursquare, but because of the network’s sheer size and the accessability of location/review-based functionality it gives to people who wouldn’t otherwise take the leap from Facebook to location-based or review sites.
5. Refocus On Metrics: Facebook Graph Search makes likes and check-ins immensely more important and reviews and ratings potentially worth their weight in gold. If you want to drive some value from Graph Search you need to push Facebook interactions between your fans and your business so Facebook can index them and return that information in Graph Search results for your business (or businesses like yours). This means you need to solicit more likes, interactions, check-ins and reviews for your business in order to appear higher in the search results.
Reiterating The Importance of Facebook For Business
The launch of Graph Search (and Nearby, which is powered by Graph Search) drives home the importance of a business presence on Facebook for companies of all sizes. While fan interactions will be important for big brands and large franchises, the real ground to be gained or lost is by smaller businesses — those who need more exposure and social proof to win new customers. Small businesses who are already behind on their social presence will need to move quickly to avoid getting left in the dust as Facebook moves forward with developments to enhance the Graph and features built around it.
The main takeaway for marketers is this: Graph Search matters and brands need to get their ducks in a row. Your brand pages need to be optimized for search, you need to have all your locations claimed and filled with up-to-date info (if you have multiple locations, this is easier to manage through Facebook’s Parent-Child pages functionality) and you need to drive likes, engagement and check-ins/recommendations for your business. You’re also going to see more success if you work in a healthy amount of advertising. Socialized search is here and your brand should be ready for it.
What do you think about Graph Search? Will it be useful to users? What about to marketers? Is it a threat to products like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Groupon, etc.? I’d love to hear your thoughts (and predictions!) in the comments or over on the Social Media and Digital Marketing Google+ community.