facebook graph search In mid January, Facebook and Mark Zuckerberg announced Graph Search, a new feature that uses the data collected on the site through profiles, check-ins, and updates to feed an internal search engine. Graph Search is brand new and only available in beta for a small portion of users, so the chatter around what it can do for brands is just speculation. But us marketers love to speculate…

First, what is Facebook Graph Search?

Graph Search is a new search tool that allows users to find people and things that relate to them – friends, places, photos, and interests. It’s all about sharing. From the perspective of a brand, if you’re looking for fans of your brand that like football, Graph Search will provide you with a list that fits the criteria.

So, how does it work?

Facebook holds a world of data: user’s personal information, their friends, hobbies, check-ins, activities, life milestones, and more. All this data is collected and much of it is at the disposal of Graph Search. When users search for something, Graph Search trolls this data from that user’s friends and gives them relevant, specific results.

What does it means for consumer brands?

  • Targeted, relevant search results • The most powerful piece of Graph Search, in my opinion, is the ability to target specific demographics, such as locations or interests. Think about the Super Bowl – there are huge opportunities for reaching fans in Baltimore and San Francisco. With Graph Search, you can search for fans of your brand who like football in those cities and target them specifically for a Super Bowl campaign. That’s powerful stuff.

super bowl invite

Reach fans who live in a specific location and like a certain hobby, such as football fans in San Francisco. 

  • Increased importance of (valuable) Likes • Facebook Likes and mentions matter that much more now that they’re tossed into the database from which these searches pull. This means brands should build up their Facebook presence to increase the number of Likes. Put simply, the more people who Like you, the more times your brand will show up in a Graph Search. Be sure they are valuable Likes – people who actually care about your brand and want to buy your products. Otherwise, the power of this new tool is moot.
  • Peer power • Facebook has not yet said how advertising (paid social search, anyone?) will be handled with Graph Search, but this tool is an organic advertisement in itself. It capitalizes on the power of peer recommendations, a strong influencer in people’s purchasing decisions (64% of moms ask other moms for their opinion before buying a new product). If Facebook users consistently mention your brand and it has a large following, the brand will benefit greatly from Graph Search.

In short, Graph Search has a lot of potential for brands to easily reach a specific audience at the right time. Such as moms with children under 10 years old or football fans in San Francisco. Potential is the key word here. We don’t have details on how this will actually shake out for brands. So for now, be on the defense and work on your Facebook presence: keep the page up to date and accurate, optimize your website content for sharing on Facebook, and continue to grow a healthy following of brand advocates.