What Facebook Graph Search Means To Businesses

Every business owner knows that it is important to have a presence on Facebook, but recommendations just got searchable with the introduction of the new Facebook Graph Search. The announcement of this new feature is over 6 months old, but for many users and small business owners the feature is just being rolled out. I wanted to provide a basic overview of the significance of Facebook graph search and how business owners might leverage it to increase leads / sales.

What is Facebook Graph Search?

Up until Facebook Graph Search was rolled out (for some users) at the first of the year, and for most users over the last 2-3 months, Facebook users were only able to look up specific people or places if they know at least part of their name. For example, if you wanted to look up Universal Studios Hollywood, you would need to know that was the name and begin typing it into the Facebook search box. However, if you simply wanted to look for all of the amusements parks in Hollywood, it would be impossible to do that without leaving the site.

Fortunately, the Facebook Graph Search will give you the ability to search for Hollywood amusement parks based on the businesses that your friends already like. In other words, when you type the search string “Hollywood amusement parks” into Facebook Graph Search, it will look through all of the pages that your friends like to make a recommendation. Therefore, if you have a friend who likes the fan page for Hollywood Park, it will appear in your list of results.

How will Facebook Graph Search Help My Business?

Although consumers are turning to the Internet in record numbers to research new businesses and products, they still prefer to receive personal recommendations whenever possible. This is what makes marketing through social media such a valuable component of your digital strategy.

For example, consider how often you have made the decision to see a movie based on the fact that the majority of your friends were raving about it. Once the movie ended, you either felt closer to your friends based on the shared bond of the experience or you began to wonder whether or not you had anything in common with them. Either way, their recommendation swayed your movie choice, and this same concept is also applied to every other purchasing act.

Most of your potential consumers are going to quickly embrace the concept of Facebook Graph Search when it is widely released later this year, and it will help them decide whether or not to do business with your company. In other words, as long as some of their trusted friends like your page, you will have a much better chance of getting their attention.

The only potential negative to this feature is that it is possible that their weird relative who they only added on Facebook to be polite will also endorse your company with a like, but hopefully that will be countered with enough recommendations from people who they actually trust.

Can Facebook Graph Search Really Have a Big Impact on Small Businesses?

Even though the earlier example highlighted looking for a major amusement park, it is much more likely that people will turn to Facebook Graph Search to discover small local businesses. After all, it does not take a genius to determine that Starbucks is a good place to get a cup of coffee, and anyone who would need to find that out by performing an online search is probably not going to become one of your favorite customers.

On the other hand, if a consumer is tired of supporting a major chain and wants to find a comparable local coffee shop, it will probably be necessary for them to ask other people for input. Because of this, it is going to be more imperative than ever to encourage your current customers to like your page on Facebook. After all, even if you honestly have the best coffee in the city, the Facebook Graph Search is not going to do you any good if you do not have a lot of people who like your page.

As long as you have cleared the hurdle of obtaining a large quantity of likes, you will soon begin enjoying the added business that will accompany Facebook’s new search feature. After all, anyone who wants to find a new local coffee shop will be able to enter a search string that contains the phrase “coffee shop” and the name of their city, and Facebook will provide them with a list that is sorted by location and the total number of people who like each applicable company’s page.

How can I Encourage Current Customers to Like My Facebook Page?

Now that you have a firm understanding of how important it is going to be to take advantage of the Graph Search feature, you might be experiencing some panic if your page does not have a lot of followers. However, you still have time to fix this problem.

One of the best ways to get people to like your page is to offer them something in return. Therefore, if you own a coffee shop, you should consider offering a free small cup of coffee to each person who likes your page or other incentives to get your social media marketing efforts off the ground. It is relatively simple to create a special coupon for your page that will only be generated once for people after they click the like button. If you are not very tech savvy, you can easily find instructions online or hire someone else to assist you with this process.

There are also several other ways to gain new fans, including:

  1. Place the URL to your Facebook fan page on all of your advertisements.
  2. Use your packaging as an easy way to get the URL of your Facebook page in front of your consumers.
  3. Ask people to like your page on Facebook, and let them know that they will receive a special coupon for doing so.
  4. Hold a promotion with your current Facebook fans to encourage them to spread the word about your page. For example, if you currently have 500 fans, you can offer to give one random fan a $20 gift card when your page hits 1,000 fans.

Will Facebook Graph Search Change how I Interact with Followers?

It has always been important for small businesses to place an emphasis on interacting with their Facebook fans. After all, if you asked one of your friends a question and they failed to answer you, it would make you feel like they were ignoring you. Therefore, unless part of your overall business plan is to be rude to your customers, it is imperative to make sure that you reply to people when they leave questions or comments on your page.

However, keep your wittiness set aside for your personal Facebook page. Otherwise, some of your jokes are bound to fall flat, and you might even offend your target audience.

When will Facebook Graph Search Start Impacting My Business?

This  feature has been rolled out slowly to users who sign up for a preview, but it should be available to all users by the end of the year. In the meantime, you need to ensure that your page is ready for Graph Search by taking these steps:

  1. Select a profile image that is eye-catching and represents your company.
  2. Completely fill out the “about” section.
  3. Make sure that your address, phone number and website address are listed.
  4. Post regular content that is applicable to your business. Not everything that you post should be a direct advertisement for your products or service, but it needs to provide something relevant for your followers.
  5. Sort through your old posts to ensure that anything that could be considered controversial is removed.

As soon as all of this has been taken care of, you will be ready to begin impressing new consumers who are introduced to your business via the Facebook Graph Search feature.

Facebook Graph Search Resources

Here are some of my favorite resources on Facebook Graph Search you may find useful:

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Analytics & AdWords certified growth engineer with over a decade experience in making businesses successful. I own and operate AXZM and often speak at top national industry conferences on the topics of strategy, design and marketing technology. Work with me or learn more about me here. Follow me @nawlready

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You must be pretty smart because you're here. We like your style. You can have all of our latest tools, tactics and growth strategies FREE, in your inbox, every month or so. 

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