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Monday

18

Mar 2013

Facebook is my favourite social network! Not just because it’s fun and useful, but also because it never fails to amaze me. This time, I am excited about two new cool features that Facebook is now rolling out gradually: Graph Search and the new News Feed. These two features are probably the biggest updates after the new “timeline”. So, let’s dig little deeper into these and see how your business can be prepared for them and possibly leverage on them.

Graph Search – Goodbye Irrelevant Search Results!

Graph Search is the new search feature introduced by Facebook which promises to give an improvised search experience to its users. It is capable of providing answers to user’s natural language queries by mining through Facebook’s huge database collected over the years and also including external data. This new semantic search engine customizes the queries for every Facebook user based on their profile, their activity and their friends. So for example, you can now search for phrases like “friends living in Singapore, who like Harry Potter” and you will get a list of all your Singapore friends who like Harry Potter. Cool, ain’t it? You get a simple answer for your complex query in no time.

What Does Graph Search Mean For Businesses?

As with any change on Facebook, businesses will have to adapt to Graph Search & find ways to leverage on it.

Adapting to Graph Search – Continue to Invest in Your Page

Graph Search currently gives only organic results for queries wherein the rank of the pages in the result would depend on a lot of factors including the completeness of information about the page, relevance to the user’s search, popularity of the page etc. So, it is very important for businesses to “invest” in their Facebook page, update it regularly with interesting content and engage their fans using innovative methods. Higher the popularity and updated-ness of your page, higher will it rank among the search results. This is very similar to the concept of Search Engine Optimization for search engines like Google. Some simple tips to make your page better are

  • Give importance to increasing your “likes” as well as “check-ins” because these are some of the verbs used in the search phrases
  • Complete your “About” section with relevant details.
  • Take advantage of the timeline feature to show the different milestones your company has crossed
  • Post rich content on a regular basis. Post interesting/creative/fun images, videos etc.
  • Be prompt in responding to your fans
  • Focus on increasing you PTA (People Talking About)

Leveraging on Graph Search

To be very honest, at the moment, it will take a lot of time and manual effort for businesses to leverage on Graph Search and get deep insights in a meaningful format.  In order to exploit the potential of the new search to the fullest, you would require applications that work with it and the data that it provides. However, we will start seeing cool apps being developed in no time which will help businesses to take full advantage of Graph Search. Having said that, there are ways businesses can start using Graph Search for the time being. It is a good time for brands to experiment with the different possibilities that the search provides and see identify the kind of searches that give the most meaningful results.

a) Understanding Customers: Businesses should try and find out relations between their brand and the likes/interests of their customers. For example, try to find what else do people who like your page also like. So if you find out that X percentage of people who like your page also like travelling for example, you can use this information while planning your future content or even social media campaigns.

b) Better Offline/Online Marketing Campaigns: Graph Search can give you a lot of information about your fans. For example, it can actually give you a list of people who work or live in a particular area in a country and also tell you if have interacted with your brand in the past. A simple search query like “People who live in “location” and like “brand name” will give you a good list of people to begin with. Make use of such queries while deciding on specific details of a marketing campaign for your brand. Specific details will include details like which age group you want to target? which gender? what kind of incentive to provide? etc. So to give an example, Starbucks has a lot of outlets in Singapore. So, by getting to know about the profile of people who work/live around these outlets, they can decide what kind of promotions would be suitable for a given outlet. The information that Graph Search provides can definitely help businesses make informed decisions, provided they perform the right kind of searches that will give them meaningful answers.

c) Competitor Analysis: Graph Search can be used to find out more about the competitors of a businesses. This is especially useful for SMEs or new businesses who are still unaware of their competitors or would like more insight about them. You can experiment with different kinds of searches with various competitor names in it and find out how many fans of your page are shared with your competitor. If your businesses is a “place”, then you can also compare things like “check-ins”.

d) Paid Search: Paid or sponsored search is something which is highly likely to be introduced soon. As mentioned before, currently, the results are organic. But Facebook should soon allow businesses to pay for a higher rank on the search results. So, in order to make the best use of paid search, now will be a great time to find out the kind of search results you would like to your page to appear for. Try to experiment with the search so that you understand how it works which will help you decide on the kind of queries that are best suited for your business.

 

Having said enough about Graph Search, I am now going to tell you a little more about the new News Feed.

New News Feed – Goodbye Clutter!

Our News Feed currently consists of posts from friends, brands, post about your friends’ activity etc. In short, it is super cluttered. Google+ realized this a long time ago and came up with the concept of multiple News Feeds where you can see posts from people in specific circles. Facebook has now adopted a similar approach (which gives Google+ one less feature to brag about)! In the new News Feed, you will now be able to see posts from specific categories. For example, you can see the posts related to your friends in a separate feed and you can switch to another feed if you want to see updates from the Facebook groups you are a part of. Another improvement in the new News Feed will be that the stories will appear much bigger than how they appear now. This means, we will see bigger  pictures and each post will take up more space on the feed. (again, similar to G+).

So, what should businesses do to adapt to the new News Feed?

  • Stay updated about the new dimensions of the posts so that you can make your creatives of the right size
  • Create more visual content. Even your ads should be visually appealing and less wordy.
  • Use high quality images that look appealing on a larger space
  • Put in a lot more thought while coming up with your content strategy. Because of the separate News Feeds, the updates from your company might appear very close to updates from other businesses the user “likes”. In such a case, your content needs to stand out and hence needs to be appealing.
  • Engage your customers more because every time a fan engages with your page, a “story” is created which appears on the News Feed of their friends. With the new look, these stories will get your brand a lot more attention.

These are some of the things which I felt that might be useful for businesses given the changes Facebook is rolling out. Besides all these, as with any other technology, businesses need to be prepared and be open to changes/updates to these features. If you have any thoughts/questions regarding the post, do comment in the space below! 🙂

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