By Amanda Peters published March 14, 2013

6 Keys to Creating Engaging Content Using Facebook Graph Search

This post was co-authored by Doug Platts, VP, Search Strategy, iCrossing, and Ashmi Dang, Social Strategist, iCrossing. 

facebook graph serachThe 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Include the location where photos and videos are taken to index for results in a particular city.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

What’s next?

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. 

Author: Amanda Peters

Amanda Peters is the Head of Social Media at iCrossing. In her role, she leads the development of social strategies for Fortune 500 brands ranging from consumer electronics, financial services, hospitality and retail/CPG. Peters views social holistically, focusing on the interplay and impact of social across bought, owned, and earned media. Follow her on Twitter @amandapeters.

Other posts by Amanda Peters

  • Jim Lodico

    I’m not so sure I agree that Facebook will eventually become good for local search. If it does, it has a long way to go. I recently wrote on my blog about my attempts to find a local coffee shop. The results were somewhat surprising as the search results were dominated by Starbucks even though there are other shops closer to my location.

    If “likes” and engagement are a factor this didn’t pan out in my search results either as the most likes on any of the Starbucks shops was around 250 while one of the independent coffee shops had more than 1,400 likes along with photos posted by followers and plenty of engagement. It was also closer than many of the Starbucks shops but it was buried deep beneath the fold.

    None of the results were what I would call close to my location and there are a number of coffee shops closer.

    I assumed at the time that this had something to do with sponsored posts but it might be that more of my fiends have “liked” Starbucks or checked in at Starbucks than the local shops. I personally haven’t.

    My attempts to find a restaurant were even worse as I received as Facebook suggested I was looking for an adult oriented Facebook ap.

    I don’t want to spam the thread but I have posted screen shots of my results and would love to hear your thoughts Amanda. I know it’s still in beta but compared to Google search, Facebook has a very long way to go.

    • Amanda Peters

      Jim — Thanks for your comment. I would agree that Graph Search results aren’t as relevant as they could be right now (as evidenced by your search for a nearby coffee shop), but we’re still in early days. Think Google 15 years ago.

      The success of Graph Search is going to rely heavily on Facebook users exhibiting three key behaviors which aren’t as common right now:
      1) Actually using Facebook to search
      2) Creating content via check-ins, tagging photos, etc. that are going to index for search
      3) Enabling personal privacy settings so content can be found.

      While Graph Search isn’t there yet, Facebook is hedging its bets that the relevancy of the results will evolve as our behaviors on the platform evolve. The point we want to make is that if and when that happens, we want to be ready. So it’s important to start preparing now and understanding the ways to create content that can help brands be found through social search.

      • Jim Lodico

        I think point No. 1 is exactly it. Will users actually turn to Facebook for search when Google is readily available? Especially when it appears to be 15 years behind Google.Unless they can get it up to speed quickly and it can compete with Google it will be hard for FB to establish itself as a search tool. This doesn’t even take into account the impact of mobile.

        In regards to privacy settings, it is more than a little amazing what you can turn up. Once people realize the power FB search gives to the user digging through profiles (of people who are not connections), it will be interesting to see if they stick around or at least lock down the privacy settings. This is where the real power of FB search lies.

  • Dwayne Golden Jr

    Thanks for the article I plan on doing more research on Facebook Graph Search and doing a case study on my site. Thanks again.

  • EricUngs

    This is going to be extremely interesting to see unravel and evolve. People don’t
    ‘search’ for things, they ‘Google’ it and this is going to be the biggest hurdle Zuck and company will have to face – changing user behavior.

    Additionally, for clarification, does Facebook Graph Search crawl all context of the content or just the ‘actions’ from the user? Meaning does it crawl the actual verbiage
    in the update or strictly the tags placed on the image, Likes, Check-ins, etc.

    Thanks for the post! Eric.

    • Christian Karasiewicz

      @EricUngs:disqus, I recently wrote a post on 17 ways marketers can leverage Facebook Graph Search on Social Media Examiner. You may want to try some of these queries. There’s lots of good data you can learn about your fans (and your competitors).

      As far as what is crawled, they don’t disclose what they search, but the types of pages you like are crawled. They also crawl check-ins as well.

  • Jacob

    what does the graph search do and how does it helps the user? does this application work in all phones?

    • Christian Karasiewicz

      @yomijacob:disqus, Facebook Graph Search does not work on mobile devices or within the mobile app (yet).