For the five people who haven’t heard yet, last Tuesday Facebook announced it was launching a massive new project. A “third pillar”, in Zuckerburg’s own words, of the Facebook platform. Graph Search: a social network search engine that builds custom results based on the social graph (does anyone actually use that term in normal conversation?) of the user. Practically, what this means is that you will now be able to search through your connections to find, well, anything I guess. How is this different than Google? It’s social, which of course means that it’s 5 Billion times better, or something. We’ve written up a short FAQ to help you get your bearings. Stay tuned for more as details come out.

What Kind of Data Can Facebook Use for Search?

Ostensibly, Facebook is asserting that it will only use publicly available data. The problem, as many articles have pointed out, is that determining which of your information is publicly available is a tricky proposition, and quite probably impossible to really master. As far as we know, these are the data nibblets that Facebook will use to refine Graph Search Results:

  • Likes: Your, your friends’, and the general public’s. If someone in your network has liked something, it’s going to get higher placement in search results.
  • Check-Ins: Technically, check-ins are a kind of “like” in Facebook’s algorithm.
  • Shares: Shares are also a technical “like”, and as such will be used to determine results in a search.
  • Photo Tags: Photo tags will be searchable, if the searcher has access to that photo, and will include things like location tagging as well as people tagged in a photo.
  • Post Tags: Remember that time you tagged Taco Bell ironically in a post about fine dining? That’s not searchable. As are, we would imagine, locations that got appended to geotagged posts.

What Does This Mean For Businesses?

That’s an interesting question, and really needs to be broken down into a couple of parts, depending on the kind of business you do and the specific business activity. Here’s a quick cheat-sheet:

  • Local Business: This one is pretty easy and straight-forward. First, before Graph Search launches, you need to make sure your business page is set up properly. This means that local businesses need a local business page (duh!) with all the about information filled out. If you want your shop found, you need to have an address, a category, a description, etc. You also need likes and check-ins. I know social media guys have been telling you this for years and it seemed like a waste of time, but we mean it this time. There’s finally a strong, measurable ROI to be had. The good news is that all the likes and check-ins you’ve accumulated are going to help out.
  • Brands: You still need to have all your ducks in a row with the about section, if only so that Graph knows what kind of searches to bring you up in. You also need to focus on getting likes if you want to be ranked higher. Sharing should be a top priority, since shares=likes. Finally, you need to put a strong emphasis on brand tagging in Facebook photos. Why? Because most people aren’t, and everything Facebook has said leads us to believe that photo search is a strong priority for them.
  • Marketers: I’m not just talking about marketing companies, here. I mean in-house marketers and anyone who wants to sell their own product, too. For marketers, Graph Search is going to be an incredibly powerful tool for finding customer opportunities. I don’t want to get too deep into multivariate regression analysis here, since I honestly haven’t played with Graph Search enough to be able to make strong statements, but I will say this: how much more powerful would your marketing efforts be if, for example, you knew that people who played tennis were 50% more likely to buy your product than non-tennis players? That’s what I thought.

What About For Web Search, Do I Need To Do Anything Different?

If you haven’t added Open Graph tags on your web page yet, you need to do so immediately. It’s a pretty straight-forward process, and there are a number of plugins available for major CMS systems to make the process programmatic and a snap. This is absolutely critical. Remember, Graph Search is NOT a crawler like Google. It won’t scour the entire internet and add every page it finds to the index. All it will do is search through the posts, pages, and users that are already part of the open graph network. So if you don’t have OG tags on your page, your business page will be excluded from Graph Search. This might change in the future, but the process is really so easy that you should take an hour or so and just do it now.

Is Facebook Really Going To Kill Google Search?

Probably not. In fact, I would put money down that they don’t come anywhere near. Still, enough people will use Graph Search to make being discoverable valuable.

If you have any more questions, ask them in the comments, or on our Facebook page, and we’ll be happy to answer! And if you found this post helpful, by all means share it with your friends!

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