Facebook® Unveils New Search Engine, "Graph Search" - What Does it Mean for Marketers?

Association of Strategic Marketing
January 17, 2013 — 1,368 views  
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Facebook® has unveiled many changes in the past, but few have had such far-reaching implications as its new “Graph Search” feature. Breaking away from traditional search methods, this tool aims to give users a way to find concrete answers to their questions rather than the suggestions offered by traditional search engines.

What is Graph Search?

Graph Search returns results based on the actions and interactions of friends within a Facebook® user’s network. Searches can be as specific as “Chinese restaurants my friends in Manhattan enjoy,” allowing users to narrow down results to a set of people in a specific location. Results show what others with similar tastes have done, where they’ve been and what they’ve liked or recommended via Facebook®. 

How Does This Change Traditional Search?

Facebook®’s new search engine scales search down to a personal level. Results drawn from within a user’s circle of friends are meant to be more accurate, more relevant and more useful than the broader scope offered by Google and other popular engines. With Graph Search, Facebook® users won’t just be able to see the hours and location of a business; they’ll know which of their friends has gone there and whether or not they liked it. Searching for books, movies and other entertainment will show who has enjoyed a particular selection, leading to a growth in the importance of peer opinion.

How Does Graph Search Challenge Google?

Instead of getting a list of links that Google judges as most relevant to a particular set of search terms, Graph Search users are presented with results that pertain directly to their networks within Facebook®. Google’s rules for page rank and result visibility don’t apply in Graph Search. In fact, the frequency with which a Page appears to a user in Facebook®’s new search will depend on how many friends have Liked or recommended that Page. In order for a Page to be part of a user’s search results, someone in that user’s network will have to have interacted with that Page. Google+ may have started the ball rolling on social search, but Facebook® is taking it one step further with Graph Search. 

What Does Graph Search Mean for Marketers?

Businesses who haven’t yet invested in social media should take notice. The introduction of Graph Search changes the way that Facebook® users find information within the social network and may even draw them away from standard search engines. Why spend time sifting through pages of search results when a query can be narrowed to deliver an answer based on the recommendations of a trusted network of friends? Marketers would be smart to keep an eye on Graph Search and amp up the amount of social media interaction that they do for their businesses.

Being visible in Graph Search results requires being visible on Facebook® in general, so interactions between business Pages and users will become more important. It’s already vital to create compelling content that draws people to a Page, but the level of importance is likely to increase as long-tail keywords become more common. Within Graph Search, people may begin to use more and more specific search terms, making it essential to brand a business with location-based keywords and words that relate specifically to its products and services.

Graph Search and the Future of Internet Marketing

Though Graph Search is still in beta, its unique design could have sweeping implications for businesses and corporations that rely on Internet marketing techniques. SEO and content are still big players in marketing, but social media interaction continues to grow in importance. With Facebook® leading the way, the evolution of social search will make peer opinion more and more important as time goes on. If Graph Search takes off, it could be a whole new venue for Internet marketing.


Association of Strategic Marketing