What can marketers expect from Facebook’s social search function Graph Search?
Yesterday, Facebook announced its first foray into search with the rollout of a social search function called Graph Search. Rather than traditional web search, Graph Search indexes search results based on the people, places and interests of the connections you have within the social network. For instance, one could search within Facebook’s Graph Search for “friends that live in San Diego” or for photos with specific friends or taken in a specific location.
While this social search function does not pose an immediate challenge to web search giant Google, the announcement that Graph Search will initially focus on people, places, photos and interests, does indicate Facebook may be looking to enter the space of online communities such as Yelp, LinkedIn and even online dating sites like Match. Cotton Delo in an article for AdAge notes that location based sites such as Yelp and Foursquare appear to face the stiffest competition outright as search queries highlighted in the Facebook announcement included: “dentists liked by my friends” and “restaurants in Palo Alto liked by my friends from India.”
But what does this new function mean for marketers? While it remains to be seen exactly how Facebook will monetize the new function, it’s clear that Graph Search will offer new opportunities for marketers. Michael Lazerow in his article for AdAge titled, “Facebook Graph Search is Here. What do Marketers Need to Know?” looks at several new advantages.
One trend this new function immediately highlights is the continuing focus on personalization. Lazerow explains,
We’re done with the days of people being labelled as expiring cookies or data points; instead, marketers need to treat people like human beings. Graph Search is the next logical step in this process for Facebook and social marketing. By building a fan base, creating engaging content and building a community, you can ensure that you’re there when your fans and the friends of your fans are searching for something on the site.
According to Lazerow another secondary advantage Graph Search presents for marketers is it finally allows Facebook to capture “intent.” Graph Search accustoms users to searching for specific information via Facebook (as well as Bing thanks to a longtime partnership between the two organizations), thus providing Facebook with a rich source of data about users intent that can eventually be used by marketers for targeted ads.
While the opportunities Graph Search offers for brands largely remain to be discovered, it will be interesting to watch the possibilities unfold with the introduction of a tool that places people as a critical element of the search function.