by Joseph Havey, Director of Social Media – Shelten Media, LLC
As with most changes in the social media world, Facebook’s recent Graph Search is yet another curveball that has been thrown at online marketers and seo. Though not pitched from far left field—one of the criticisms was that Facebook waited too long to present this type of feature — it appropriately garnered significant media attention because it has large implications for users and advertisers. The change essentially is a search engine, the results of which are gleaned from the network of individual users.
What it’s for:
According to Facebook, the most popular searches will be related to job prospects, dating prospects, things to do, or product recommendations. LinkedIn, OK Cupid and Match.com really have the job and dating arena covered, and I don’t expect that to change. This is largely due to the fact that these websites are more tailored to that arena. As CNN commented, the things users share on Facebook are geared towards friends and family and are not the polished versions of themselves that would be on LinkedIn or the various online dating sites.
However, when it comes to recommendations for products or experiences, Graph Search is a serious threat to the likes of Yelp and Google. With the large amount of information people share on Facebook, the search has the potential to be much more relevant than that of ordinary search engines. Why? Because seeing friends’ profiles next to the pages of restaurants after typing in “where my friends like to eat” is the epitome of word-of-mouth advertising—often viewed as the best type of advertising possible.
A new SEO:
Marketing strategy now has to worry about a brand new type of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). For a long time, organizations have been updating their website, data mining hot search words and tagging blog posts with just the right key phrases to be the first ones to show up on Google. With Facebook graph search, none of that matters. The way to rank higher on the results of this search is to have generated the most discussion. The more people that “Like” or are talking about an organization, the more likely a search will yield it. So what’s the bottom line?
Increased online engagement.
This is going to be the key for marketers when it comes to Graph Search. Companies can no longer push their social media presence off to the side if they expect to gain significant leads from the new feature. The implications are huge—I predict a massive increase in organization activity because the Facebook pages will, in a way, become the new website. Organizations will have to constantly make sure their pages are up to date and accurate, as these will be the first point of contact with potential consumers.
This is great news for smaller, localized businesses. If they can get their consumers to take their business-related discussions online, then they’ll have a much higher likelihood of showing up in a “what shoe stores my friends like” Graph Search than a simple “what shoe stores are in my city” query via Google. All of this word-of-mouth marketing for which social media has long been touted is going to matter more now than ever before. Get ready for the increased jump of online contests, social media-based giveaways and petitions for shout-outs.
As USA TODAY reported, “there’s SEO and then there’s Facebook SEO. If Graph Search takes off, the latter will become a big business.”
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