Facebook Graph Search for small businesses
By Mayur Kisani

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Has your organization used Facebook Graph Search?
  • 1. Yes, and it's quite useful
  • 2. Yes, but I don't see the big deal
  • 3. No, but I'm excited to try it
  • 4. No, and I don't see the point

In January, Facebook started rolling out a highly anticipated beta version of a new search feature, Graph Search. It was initially thought to be Facebook's answer to traditional search engines like Google, but has turned out to be a much more specific and better search functionality within Facebook.

Graph Search enables users to search for anything specific — what their friends like, which restaurants they have been to in a location — or something more personal like their photos from a specified time. Before users can use it though, Graph Search needs to be activated from this page by clicking on the "Try Graph Search" button. If you can't click it, it's already active for you.

So how can small businesses benefit from Graph Search? Read on ...

Intelligent search and discovery

Facebook Graph Search now makes your local business more visible and easier to get discovered by a Facebook user. It is well known that people are more likely to prefer a brand their friends prefer (via social media). So when, for example, I searched for "pizza places in New York my friends visited," here is what came up:

As you can see above, Graph Search shows me all the pizza places my friends visited in New York, along with recommendation stars, location maps, other similar restaurants, etc. All this information being showed to users is invaluable to small businesses and is a lot more likely to turn that user into a prospective customer.

Graph Search for advertising and marketing

Graph Search is designed to be a lot faster and more effective than the older search. It could test Facebook's ability to effectively sell and target advertisements.

When a user searches for something similar to what I did above, there is some serious interest and intentionality on my part toward what I'm searching for. There is a big probability I would be visiting a pizza place in New York, which is why I searched for it in the first place.

This aspect is a really big deal for advertisers and defines a whole new ballgame for the potential in advertising and microtargeting users on the platform. If Facebook decides to use the details Graph Search generates and integrates them into its ads, it could be a real gem compared to the traditional display ads we now see.

First steps for businesses
  • God is in the details: Don't forget to pay attention to the seemingly small details of your organization's facebook page. Ensure the spellings and your address are right, add products and services, put up a good image/logo. These little steps will ensure your business page shows up in search results and looks good while doing so.

  • Customer reviews: Encourage your fans to add a review to your business page. Reviews show up in Graph Search results, so you want to ensure there are as many (good) reviews of your business as possible.

  • Check-in: Another feature you might want your fans to use is Facebook's "check-in" feature. Encourage them to check in to your business page whenever they visit. This helps in showing up in location-specific Graph Search results. Searchers will see their friends who have already visited.

  • Discounts, offers and specials: Providing discounts and offers on your Facebook page ensures more activity and engagement by your fan base, resulting in their timelines being populated by your business, in turn resulting in a broader network. This broader network has scope for additional prospective customers.
Finally, as a user, if you are concerned about your privacy, go on and read the 3 tips about search privacy provided by Facebook.

Mayur Kisani is a new-age marketer specializing in social media and interested in digital marketing and technology. You can reach out to Mayur on Twitter @MayurKisani or on Linkedin.