Today, Facebook held an event in Menlo Park to announce the development and rollout of what it is calling Graph Search. While this announcement is of interest to social marketers, I think search marketers could be impacted the most.
Graph Search will initially focus on four different pieces of Facebook content: People, Photos, Places, and Interests. Posts and Open Graph Actions will not be eligible to show in search results initially, but Facebook has said that capability will be coming in the next few months.
When it comes to privacy concerns, Facebook was very quick to highlight that the information returned in search results is only information that the user searching already had access to. Private information is not eligible to show in search results unless it is shared with the user.
Facebook gave many examples of general use cases for this new Graph Search, including searching for restaurants liked by people who are chefs or finding someone to play a game with by searching for friends who like it. You can also search for people who live in a certain city or have visited a certain country.
Facebook also announced that Graph Search will include web search powered by Bing. Users who are already on Facebook will not only be able to search for information within Facebook itself but across the web.
Graph Search Impacts for Marketers
The availability of web results in Graph Search is huge news for search marketers. While the adoption rate of Facebook’s Graph Search remains to be seen, users will now have the option to use Facebook as their primary search engine. Users who want to search the web and are already on Facebook will no longer have to open a new tab or window to access a web search engine. With the amount of active users on Facebook, this could cause a noticeable shift in share of searches now dominated by Google.
Specific uses for social marketers will be discovered in more detail as Facebook rolls out the new Graph Search. It is clear, however, that social marketers will not have new access to data they did not already have access to; the data will just be easier to access. There will be some level of market research that can be performed by searches initially, focused on interests, geo targeting, or social connections. It appears that the only clear benefit to social research is that data gathered will be easier to gather and quicker to compile.
Graph Search will also make it easier for social marketers to search for individual fans by allowing a brand to search for a fan by interests, geo targeting, or social connections. This will be an interesting tool for link development and relationship building.
My experience with Facebook advertising raises many questions in my mind as to the future of advertising through Graph Search. Will Facebook serve ads in the Facebook search results page? What types of ads will be served? Which advertisers will have access to those ad types? Will Facebook serve ads on web results pages or will Bing serve ads on web results pages?
It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s Graph Search impacts both social marketers as well as search marketers as the capability is rolled out and matures over the next few months. While the intersection of social and SEO has been clear for some time, this new development may just be the first step toward the intersection of social and PPC.