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Thursday, 17/01/13

Facebook announces Graph Search, a new way to discover

Alongside Timeline and News Feed, Graph Search is designed to give users the ability to filter and uncover relevant content within their own networks.

By Harvey Goldhersz, Vice President and COO, MediaCom Worldwide

Harvey
Yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg announced the next cog in the Facebook discovery machine: Graph Search. Joining Timeline and News Feed, Graph Search is designed to give users the ability to filter and uncover relevant content within their own networks.

Graph Search is also a way to keep people on Facebook to find this content, rather than leaving for Google or another search property. And for brands, it is fair to expect Facebook to integrate user intent (while they use Graph Search) into its broader targeting capabilities. The full Facebook announcement can be seen here.

More on Graph Search

As a shortcut, you might think of Graph Search as being in direct contrast to Google's model: Graph Search goes narrow while Google goes wide.

With Graph Search, a user will type a query into the Facebook search box and get a curated result based on his or her own network. Contrast this to Google, where a search result yields higher-level links and content that a user can then drill into to evolve his or her decision making.

As shown below, users will also be able to filter search results on a broader range of criteria.

Facebook Graph Search

The brand opportunity

For brands, the immediate importance of Graph Search will likely be dictated by the importance of local and mobile access because - out of People, Places, Photos and Interests - Places is likely to be the most relevant. Brands with physical locations (e.g., retailers, restaurants and hotels) will want to increase their consumer engagement in order to increase the likelihood that they will appear in a user's search results.

This is not to say that brand pages don't remain important. As users conduct queries and filter results, brand pages will, in fact, be surfaced. Additionally, there are two ways by which a brand can show up in a Graph Search:

  • Because the algorithm decides a user's friends are connected to a brand

  • Or a brand purchases a Sponsored Results ad

A secondary implication is that a brand's organic posts now reach fewer people, following a change to the Facebook EdgeRank algorithm last October. This means that an additional investment may be required to increase exposure.

What to do right now

  • Review your Facebook Page content

  • Work with your team at MediaCom to firm up your fan acquisition strategy and evaluate the implications to your organic post strategy

  • Consider a Sponsored Results ad

  • Optimize for Bing (the back-up search engine if a user gets no results from Graph Search)

What's a Facebook fan worth?

An ongoing challenge for brands is determining what a Facebook fan is worth, especially now that calculation is once again changed because of Graph Search. As brands think about engaging with Facebook users, it will no longer be just a calculation of sales but also one of influence.

Final Observations

The next most likely evolution of Graph Search will be mobile integration, and we'll help you keep an eye on what's happening. Beyond mobile, the most important and hopefully positive implication will be the enhanced "intent intelligence" that Graph Search may yield, and the ability to use that new asset for more relevant and timely targeting.

Click here to download a PDF version of this story.


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