The newly launched Facebook Graph Search allows members of the world’s largest social network to find content through their Facebook social connections. As Facebook Graph Search evolves, CMOs and their teams should ensure visibility in both Graph Search and users’ news feeds by sharing engaging content with their audiences. Moreover, employing a holistic social strategy and active community management are increasingly essential to succeeding on Facebook in a Graph Search-enabled world.
What is Graph Search?
Launched in limited beta in January 2013, Graph Search allows Facebook users to examine relationships with trillions of objects, currently focusing on a subset of content within its ecosystem: people, photos, places, and interests. With Graph Search, Facebook users make queries by combining phrases to find content shared on Facebook:
- People: “friends who live in my hometown,” “people who like things I like,” “people who like soccer in New York City”
- Photos: “photos of my friends in Los Angeles,” “photos of Nike,” “photos I like”
- Places: “restaurants in Los Angeles,” “restaurants my friends in New York like,” “countries my friends have visited”
- Interest: “music my friends like,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like,” “books read by my family,” “videos of TV shows my friends like”
Graph Search results are indexed (in order of relevancy) based on the strength of the relationship with one’s social network connections. The stronger the relationship between a person or a page, the more likely that content is deemed relevant and is displayed in search results. For example, if you are seeking new music and several of the people you engage with on a daily basis like the band “Radiohead,” the name “Radiohead” will appear in the results. Graph Search results are also “privacy-aware” and will only display content that has been shared with the user conducting the search, alongside objects that have been publicly shared.
As the product evolves, Graph Search has great potential to change the way we use the web to search and share engaging content.
Implications for content marketing and social media
Since Graph Search results are based on personal connections, brands must focus on fostering deeper connections with their fans through a holistic social strategy and active community management.
Connections are fueled by engagements such as a fan “liking” a brand’s Facebook page, liking/commenting/sharing branded content, publishing user generated content (UGC) that tags the brand, checking in, and other similar actions. The more actions a user takes with the brand, the stronger the connection and the more likely that a brand’s fans and friends of fans will see the brand’s content in their Graph Search results.
And what fuels engagement? Content.
Now more than ever, it’s essential that brands create and publish compelling content that resonates with a specific audience and is formatted to increase engagement on the Facebook platform, ultimately leading to more visibility, discoverability, and purchases through Graph Search. While Graph Search is in Beta, brands can begin to take steps to help their content index in Graph Search.
Six key considerations
- Publish, and publish often: A brand’s editorial calendars should include a variety of formats, including photos and videos, to engage each audience. Note that photos and videos must be posted directly to the Facebook platform, rather than via links to third-party sites, such as YouTube.
- Include keyword rich tags and descriptions that reflect the linguistic behaviors of the audience to increase the likelihood of appearing in a user’s Graph Search results.
- Include the location where photos and videos are taken to index for results in a particular city.
- If your brand’s post has a physical location associated with it, create or update Facebook pages that refer to your local area with your address and contact information.
- Consider contests or promotions that encourage users to submit photos and videos, and tag your brand in their submissions, further increasing the potential connections between your brand and the Facebook audience.
- Ensure that the About section of your brand‘s Facebook Page is optimized with the relevant names, categories, and descriptions.
In short: create content that is useful, usable, visible, desirable, and engaging — the cornerstones of building a socially-connected brand.
Facebook Graph Search has potential. If Facebook can get users to adopt the new functionality, and if Facebook can enrich personalized results, we may see Graph Search start to own local search over the likes of Google Local, Trip Advisor, and Yelp. Such an advance would make Graph Search an important source of content marketing for retailers that have local branches.
But for now, CMOs and their teams should continue to focus on generating authentic connections with their audiences through conversation and engaging content to ensure visibility in both Graph Search and a user’s news feed.
Looking for more tips on leveraging the latest social media trends to create engaging content? Read CMI Books’ “Capturing Community” by Michael Silverman.