Are you interested in knowing what sushi restaurants in Manhattan your friends like? How about finding people who enjoy skydiving, live in Colorado, and have children? Facebook has unveiled its newest feature, known as Graph Search. Graph Search allows users to access the incredible amount of data Facebook has on its user’s interests, locations, likes, and demographics. We can now preform searches such as:

Photos that I liked in 2010

People who are interested in Barack Obama and live in Alabama

Single women who have children and work at General Electric

Facebook’s intent is to turn Graph Search into a substitute for Google, Match.com, Yelp!, and other places Internet users frequent to find information about specific topics. This search feature is up against some serious challenges and competition. In order for Graph Search to be successful, users must adopt the feature. Facebook has already admitted that it holds limited functionality at the time being; user’s interests may not be completely accurate as to what he or she actually enjoys. Marketers are facing a huge opportunity with Graph Search if it takes hold. There are some incredible potential uses for the feature that we will discuss below. Let’s look into the future of Graph Search.

Increased Value of Likes and Recommendations

It’s been a generally accepted rule for Facebook marketers that a Like is not quite as valuable as the quality of fans you bring to your page. With fans who actually care about your business and product, you are much more likely to convert these users into sales instead of users who have liked your page from an ipad giveaway. Now, Graph Search results will be sorted by amount of Likes a page has. When customers in the area of your restaurant search “Seafood restaurants nearby”, businesses with the highest Likes will be the top result. Google’s search results are organized by SEO link ranking. The more “recommendations” your website has as links to your page from other sites, the stronger your search results will be. Facebook Likes are the SEO links of Graph Search.

A Move Towards an Adwords-Like System

With the new search feature comes a different navigation system, moved to the right side of the page. This is where Facebook has historically placed paid ads. This could mean that paid advertisements will be treated to increased visibility from users spending more time on that side of the page. Sponsored search results were a less well-known feature Facebook offered to select advertisers. When users searched for certain pages in the old search bar, business could pay to come up first as a sponsored result. This new Graph Search makes these results much more valuable to local businesses. Facebook could soon roll out a new system of advertising based on search keywords, as opposed to their current demographic targeting.

Advanced Targeting

Imagine you are a hotel in Orlando, Florida. You want to open a restaurant in your hotel, and would like to know what has the most potential to be successful. Here are some creative searches you could preform in Graph Search that would give you incredible insight into your customer base:

People who live in Orlando who like Yelp!

Photos of people who travelled to Orlando Studios and like Restaurants

Interests of people who are also interested in Fine Dining and Tourism

If Graph Search can refine the interests of users to provide accurate results, we might also expect Graph Search to become integrated into the current precise interest targeting that Facebook already offers for paid ad campaigns.

Upcoming Privacy issues.

There is a dark side to Graph Search that is quickly surfacing. The information that users have opted in to share is astounding. Take these examples:

People who like Racism and work at AT&T

Married men who like Prostitution

People who are a part of Alcoholic’s Anonymous

Facebook is going to experience a serious backlash from allowing this information to be so easily found. In order for Graph Search to be successful, Facebook may have to apply some sort of filter to search results that block controversial interests and likes from the general public.

How to Prepare for the Changes

If you are a marketer, start thinking about how your strategy might change if these new features become available. Preform searches on behalf of your clients, and help them understand what kind of consumer is really engaged with their business. Refine your ad targeting with any new information you find, and be prepared for some serious changes in the Facebook advertising environment. If you own a business, start experimenting with graph search. Ask questions like:

Other interests people have who like your business.

Start creating content that really resonates with these users. See if you find any opportunities you are missing in your current marketing. If you are running ads, add in additional interest targeting that better reflects the customer you are trying to advertise to.

The social media marketing landscape can be extremely overwhelming at times, especially when changes like Graph Search can come so quickly. If you are interested in seeing serious results from Facebook, contact Smart Inbound for a free strategy session.