The rollout of Facebook's Graph Search is significant on several levels. Google has become the powerhouse that it is because of the power of discoverability. Facebook has earned its way into consumers' hearts (and media share) under a different value proposition. The connections and engagement on Facebook have amassed a treasure trove of data, and Facebook is beginning to take advantage of this. Facebook and the marketing community have just begun to scratch the surface. We have only seen the tip of the tip of the iceberg.
As we begin to digest and assess what Facebook Graph Search means to us as marketers, I wanted to provide a few initial reminders and tips as you think about what it will mean to your business.
First, the basic ground rules of new marketing platforms are universal …
- In order for an new feature, platform or channel to be important to marketers, it first needs significant adoption by consumers.
- Once marketers enter the fray, we need to be careful not to fundamentally change the experience for consumers.
Think of how consumers may actually use this feature …
- Facebook Graph Search lends itself to local discovery — eg: "pictures from friends, and friends of friends from Bali" – or – "what friends have visited L&B's Pizza in Bensonhurst Brooklyn" – or – "where do my single friends go out on weekends?" – or – "where have my friends learned how to scuba dive?"
- Retailers, as well as brands that are involved in events will most likely need to develop strategies to populate the graph with local 'stories' (check-ins, fan posts) that are discoverable.
- Generally, brands will want to continue to grow their audiences and increase the level of engagement in order to increase the volume of discoverable content and connections that consumers can discover via graph search
- Facebook has made great strides with their 'native advertising' (integrated) products, and Graph Search will be no different. Prepare to increase your Facebook advertising budgets in the coming 12-18 months.
As Facebook continues to expand beyond its walled garden with its acquisition of Instagram, and of course the millions of connections on the web and mobile applications, the potential to scale the inputs and outputs of graph search beyond Facebook content is extremely interesting. While there is no immediate threat to Google (in fact graph search is totally complimentary to web search as it stands today), Facebook surely will try its best to develop and drive a new common consumer behavior with Graph Search. From a data utilization standpoint, this is big data, in a big way. The computing power required to produce relevant and accurate results in real-time are staggering. Kudos to Facebook in developing the beginning of a what surely will be a very rich discovery process. Hopefully marketers (and Facebook) will take heed however, and allow this feature to become a valuable part of the consumer experience before altering the experience by flooding it with the inevitable sponsored messaging products that lie in our not too distant future.