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Facebook’s Graph Search: Passing Fad or Next Big Thing?

 Facebook's Graph Search: Passing Fad or Next Big Thing?

As Facebook tries to effectively monetize its social media platform and become sustainably profitable, it has tried several new tactics.  One of those tactics is allowing businesses and individuals to “promote” posts on Facebook so that everyone who is connected to you will see the post.  Another is graph search, which tries to pull business away from other search engines like Google, keeping people looking at Facebook's ads longer.  Is Facebook Graph Search actually being used, and what should you do to get good rankings in Graph Search?  This guide will give you the basics so that you can go in with all the information.

What Is Facebook Graph Search?

Facebook's Graph Search allows users to search based on information that Facebook knows about their friends, photos, and about locations near the user.  For example, if you indicated to Facebook that you wanted to find restaurants near a specific location, you could narrow the parameters further by telling it what kind of restaurant you were interested in and exactly where you wanted it to be located.

Facebook also lets people look through their friends for people who work for specific places, live in secific towns, or are friends with other friends.  This search functionality makes it easier for people to access the data that is being made public by people and businesses.

Getting Good Rankings in Graph Search

It's not yet clear exactly how Facebook's Graph Search decides which results to display first, when it comes to businesses.  It does, however, appear that there are at least a few things you can do to increase the chance that your result will show before your competitors.  First of all, you should make sure that all parts of your Facebook page are filled out, and that you haven't left any blank information sections.  You should ensure that your address is correct and that all the other contact information Facebook has for you is right.

It's also true that Facebook will tend to rank pages higher in the Graph Search if they are updated on a regular basis.  If you barely post to your Facebook page and don't comment or engage with your users often, you will likely see significantly lower results as part of Graph Search.  Of course, these kinds of interactions are also useful from an overall social media marketing perspective, so you should work on interacting more with your audience no matter what.

Are People Using Graph Search?

So far, this is one of the most difficult questions to answer, and also one that many marketers would love to know the answer to.  Graph Search is certainly not going to overtake Google, Yahoo, or Bing any time soon.  But for certain types of businesses, especially those that use a large number of word of mouth referrals, Graph Search is already being used and will probably be used more in the future once Facebook promotes the feature more.

The lack of overall promotion for Graph Search has hurt how many people use it.  Not all Facebook users are aware that Facebook has changed how its search algorithm and sorting works, and not everyone has felt that the changes are a net positive.  Some users feel that the Graph Search's reliance on information voluntarily given to Facebook can seem like an invasion of privacy.

Hiring Outside Help

If you want to make your Facebook page Graph Search ready but don't know how or don't want to risk doing it wrong, you might consider outsourcing this aspect of your social media marketing to an agency.  Some agencies will help a law firm develop their Facebook page for as little as a few hundred dollars, making it well worth it if it spares your firm frustration and several hours of work.

However, it's important not to have all of your social media content created by outside providers.  At the end of the day, you're the one who knows your specialty areas best.  Having outsiders try to talk with authority about your specialty topics could result in misinformation being distributed on your website.

Identifying Target Demographics With Graph Search

Graph Seach doesn't just have to be a way that people look for you.  By using Graph Search, you can successfully identify groups of your fans and friends, learning what demographics are most likely to add you to their friends and who is most likely to give you a call after becoming your Facebook friend.

Try looking at Graph Search to see how many of the people who have friended you are, for example, men versus women.  Do you have a fairly even ratio, or is it imbalanced in one direction or another?  Understanding this can help you target your Facebook posts, sponsored content, and pay per click advertisements to be most effective with the eyes that are actually reading your pages.

Keep An Eye On the Future

It's important to understand that Facebook Graph Search is new enough that nobody really knows yet whether it's going to work or not.  It may be that Facebook Graph Search will soon be abandoned, or that many users will find it more creepy and invasive than useful.  Make sure that you don't do anything that could compromise the privacy of your own clients in order to get ahead with Facebook graph search.

Make sure that you keep reading recent articles regarding Facebook Graph Search to make sure that the numbers keep showing steady growth in use.  If users simply refuse to adopt the new feature, you should stop sinking your time and money into making the feature work for you.  Don't throw good money after bad—if it starts to look like Graph Search will simply never be competitive, there's nothing wrong with trying new strategies instead.

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