It’s been the biggest piece of social and search marketing news so far in 2013. Facebook is finally making the most of the huge quantities of data it has on its more than 1 billion users by introducing Facebook Graph Search.
So what does it mean for social and search marketers? What are the unanswered questions, and how could it develop in the future?
We caught up with three of our ionSearch speakers to find out what they made of the launch:
There will be a lot of disruption and I expect that Google, Match.com, Linkedin and Yelp etc are thinking very hard right now about what it means for the future of their business models.
Although from a pure SEO point of view it’s unlikely to have a great impact, the partnership with Bing is interesting in that it shows that Microsoft are still committed to search and that they aren’t afraid to work with others to increase their reach. The SEO discipline has also pushed into Social Media a lot over the last two years, through the importance of social signals and a need for SEOs to examine other channels and consider how they can get more customers through more than just organic results.
If you’ve yet to embrace Facebook for your brand, or are just doing the bare minimum, then it’s worth refreshing yourself on EdgeRank and trying to make your updates stand out. Now people have more ways to find your content it’s important that Facebook sees it as important enough to show, and embracing EdgeRank will allow you to tap into that power.
Initially, I was delighted to hear that Facebook had finally looked to improve the capability of their dreadful search function – it’s been badly needed. However, a lot is still unclear about the future of Graph Search. If it does catch on and users utilise search as a way of discovering places/businesses based upon a “social media ranking” as Facebook intends, then this will be an incredibly powerful tool that Facebook should look to roll out for the rest of the web, not just their own platform.
But if results are solely based on Likes, then this will most certainly attract more business to paid-Likes services. As a consequence, results won’t be based upon quality – but rather quantity. With no ability to “negatively review” a Place, Business or Page the results will always be warped. Yes, it’s interesting to see the most ‘Liked’ restaurants in say Leeds, but if we took that as a quality indicator TGI Fridays would be the best restaurant in Leeds. Graph Search is a great first step, but Facebook need to ensure they clamp down on abuse swiftly, and perhaps finally add the “Dislike” button.
It’s another great idea launched by Facebook that unfortunately is stuck in a catch 22 situation, like many other user generated, data-led products.
Simply put, you need accurate and sufficient user generated data from users for any form of social search engine to be a working success.
People-powered user generated data such as check-ins, Likes and photo location tags are an occasional novelty for the mass majority of users who are still concerned (and confused) about basic privacy rights in relation to their simple status update and protection of their IP.
Take myself for example:
Yesterday I discovered a restaurant nearby on a food review site through Google, but I didn’t check-in or go home and become their fan on Facebook.
Their ox cheek dish was amazing but I didn’t like it through a Like button on their site to feed into the graph. I took a photo of it using Instagram, but it didn’t occur to me to tag my location, I was just expressing myself without having to fill in a slew of pre-upload data form fields.
What we learn is that the entire process is broken if we don’t manually power enough of our consumer behaviour data into the graph.