Since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Facebook Graph Search, pundits, experts, gurus, and every Tom and Mary with a blog has been buzzing about what the new Graph Search means, what is great about it and what is wrong with it.
First let me start with…this is beta! It is not perfect yet. Facebook Graph Search will not be perfect EVER just like Google is not perfect with it’s search results. Comparing the usefulness of Graph Search in beta mode is like judging a baby boy on his walking abilities at 11 months old…sorta but still working on it.
While it is still new you will find people with negative things to say about Graph Search – like here. You will find plenty positive reviews about the Facebook new search tool’s potential.
For the rest of the article, know this…it is in beta and things will change so judge Facebook’s newest addition by it’s potential and not it’s functionality right now! That rant is over…let’s look at Facebook Graph Search for what it could mean for business.
As I said in the 2013 Marketing Trends & Opportunities Guide, I believe the Facebook and Google battle will bring about innovative technology and tools that are great for the consumer and great for businesses. Graph Search could be good for both…if they do it right. Given the fact that Facebook is now publically traded with a current Market Cap of about $65 Billion, I believe they will give it more than the ole college try.
Facebook is no longer The Facebook that we learned about in The Social Network, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake. Zuckerberg is no longer a kid focused on making it cool and fun. He is now a CEO with shareholders to answer to and the shareholders are interested in money. Facebook made a cool billion dollars or so on advertising last year but they have to continue to evolve.
Among the strengths of Facebook making this work is the amount of data they keep on 900 million people. This is the kind of data that major corporations try to gather while spending millions of dollars a year. All this data is what allows Facebook to create a people-driven search engine. The people-driven search engine will allow you to make choices about businesses based on your friends likes, interests, and recommendations. This is nothing new in life. You have been doing it forever. You need a good pediatrician…call your friends with kids and ask. The difference now is Facebook Graph Search will allow you to get your answer in seconds without having to pickup the phone.
Of course this is dependent on one BIG IF…
If Facebook can get more businesses focusing on creating Fan Pages, getting “Likes”, and engaging with their fans with “shareable” media and messaging…then Facebook Graph Search will be a big hit for businesses.
Currently it may not be such a boost as a search engine that helps businesses. The numbers are not there. The question then becomes, “The chicken or the egg? Which came first?”
Does Graph Search stimulate more businesses to engage their fans or does Graph Search need more businesses to understand the true power of this IF it works properly.
Personally I think it will be great. It will be great for some businesses, good for others, and not so good for others.
In case you don’t quite get the comparison of Facebook’s search tool and Google…
If you want to find a good Italian restaurant you go to Google and type in “Italian restaurants”. You get 10 or so results on the first page of Google and many, if not all of them will have reviews. A search in Facebook would be, “Italian restaurants my friends like in Henderson, NV.” You then get results of restaurants in your area that your friends “like”.
For restaurants, Facebook Graph Search could be great.
Now here is a different example. You need a proctologist so you go to Google and type in, “proctologist” and get results from your area…no problem. Now go to Facebook’s new search tool and type in “proctologists in Henderson NV that my friends like” and you have a problem. You are not likely to get results. Your friends probably didn’t “like” or interact with a proctologist’s Facebook Fan Page.
Here’s a few quick tips:
- Businesses that have a social feel to them should flourish with Facebook Graph Search.
- Businesses that are frequented often by the same customers(like restaurants, golf courses, etc) should also benefit.
- Businesses that have infrequent purchases and less social feel will have to work a little harder to make Graph Search work for them.
So basically, Facebook Graph Search is stronger for businesses that are already having success on Facebook. It may not change much for other businesses for a while. Until Facebook users start spending more time “liking” and “sharing” content from businesses rather than looking at friends baby pictures and talking about an election that has been over for several months…the new Facebook search tool will benefit social businesses more than others.
…here is a tip for Facebook–> Do something to stimulate users to want Graph Search to work. Tell them to “like” the businesses they frequent to help their friends out, and businesses that deserve it.
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