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Facebook just released their new Graph Search last week, and already there has been a lot of excitement and speculation. Learn what Graph Search is, why you should care, how it works, and how you can make it work for your brand, all right here in this early comprehensive guide to Facebook Graph Search!


What is Graph Search?

Graph Search is Facebook's answer to social search. With Graph Search you can seek out new friends who share your interests, get recommendations for the best local restaurants, or even look for love by searching for people with a relationship status of "single" in your area. It is a tool that provides every Facebook user with easy access to Facebook's vast social graph!


Why Should I Care?

Graph Search is important for your brand for the same reasons that search engine optimization is important, it's another opportunity to get your name in front of consumers ahead of your competition! Users will find recommendations for businesses based on social proof when their friends like those brands. Graph Search will evolve into a powerful way to harness word of mouth using social media.

You could save yourself a lot of time, money, and trouble by understanding if Facebook is the place for your brand to set up shop before you start spending money and dedicating resources to creating and maintaining a Facebook community. For a brand that is just getting their feet wet in social media and isn't sure where they should focus their efforts, it would be a wonderful tool for determining if your target audience is on Facebook and whether they already like and engage with brands that are similar to yours.

There could also be other potential uses beyond marketing, in social research. Facebook has the largest database of information about the human race and how we all interact and are connected to each other that has ever existed. Mashable was able to find that KFC is the preferred restaurant of Star Wars fans. There are certainly plenty of interesting and even useful patterns that could be identified using Graph Search. The possibilities are endless!


How Does it Work?

  • Engagement will play an important factor in deciding how your brand page is ranked by Graph Search.
  • The number of people who have liked your brand page will also be important. The more fans you have, the more likely your brand is to appear in your fan's and their friend's searches.
  • Social search adds a human element to recommendations, so search results will vary from one individual to the next based on their own interests and their friend's interest.
  • The impact is especially huge for local businesses, as Graph Search will integrate a service similar to Yelp directly into Facebook. Having a robust system for recommending local businesses built on social proof also removes a step; navigating to a third-party service to get those recommendations. Now, these searches can be performed directly from Facebook and return results that are more personally relevant to you!


How Do I Make it Work for Me?

For brands who care to optimize for Graph Search, it's a new avenue to use social media to attract consumers, meet new customers, and retain your current clientele. Optimizing for Graph Search is sure to evolve in the coming months and years, but in this early junction, here are the best tips we currently have for ensuring your brand page is ready:

  • Graph Search uses the information you've provided to Facebook to help potential customers find you. Make sure that information is accurate and up to date. Add relevant sub-categories under the "About" section of your page to help users find you in their searches. If you're a local business, make sure you've listed your address. When fans search for restaurants their friends liked in the city you do business in, you want to be at the top of those results! Without an address, you may not even show up at all.
  • Keep engaging with your fans and growing your community! I've always maintained that going out of your way to engage with each one of your fans who posts or comments on your page should be considered a best practice and is a sign of a truly social brand, rather than one that is just going through the motions. Engagement will directly affect your search ranking, making this more true than ever before! I've got an exciting post coming up in the near future that covers a posting tactic that will organically improve your engagement on Facebook that you should be able to read next week!
  • Depending upon how Graph Search evolves throughout the development process, it could also be helpful in identifying which of your fans are most active and influential among your target audiences. This would be useful for targeting special offers or reaching out to advocates to form programs that empower them to become champions of your brand and reward them for doing so.


When Do I Get It?

You're probably really excited about Graph Search at this point, but unfortunately chances are you currently don't have access to it. Graph Search is currently in beta, being tested by only a few thousand of Facebook's 1 billion users. There's no official date for when it will be rolled out to the wider Facebook audience, but for now if you're in the US you can sign up for the waiting list to join the beta.

Post by Zachary Chastain
January 21, 2013