With Facebook's announcement of their "Graph Search," small business owners need to take a serious look at the content of their Facebook Page, as well as other Facebook assets that have an opportunity to rank, like FB places, FB groups and FB pages from competitors.
During Facebook's press event yesterday, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO, made it clear that Graph Search is designed to give you answers instead of links. Users will be able to search the public Facebook content by name, categories or phrases, like "Seafood restaurants near me."
Graph Search is available to a small group of users who use Facebook in English, but you can add your name to a waiting list to find out when you can start using this new functionality. Once available, you will be able to find relevant people, pages, apps, places, groups, games and suggested searches from Microsoft's Bing search engine -- all without having to leave Facebook.
Back in June of 2012, we wrote about Google's Knowledge Graph and how it was time to "Forget keywords for SEO -- concentrate on the properties and associations of things to improve search optimization." These recommendations apply even more to Facebook's Graph Search since the Facebook algorithm will look for the properties of your Facebook business page, the name, category, vanity URL and the information under the "about" section.
People, places and things that are more popular among your connections will be ranked higher to you. Your coworker will get different results since they have different connections. Facebook will encourage users to "extend this search" by providing links to "photos from these pages" or "videos from these pages."
But one thing will be the same: both of you will see ads. The offers you see might be different from those your coworker gets to see, but Facebook mentioned, "Sponsored results allow you to promote results in the search bar and will appear whether or not users have Graph Search."
To create Graph Search results, Facebook will collect all of the signals from your business page, including if users "like" your page and will share this info with your customer's friends when they search for recommendations. If your page does not have a street address, your result will not show up when users are searching for specific locations.
Make sure to answer all of the questions Facebook has about your business, including phone, hours, email and website. When Facebook asks a restaurant for food style, price range, specialties, attire, service and payment options, they want the data to provide a good match for the user looking for "casual seafood restaurants good for groups." If your business does not have a complete profile, you are helping your competitors dominate the results page.
Remember that users will search for things like "restaurants near me." But as they learn to take advantage of Graph Search, their search query will become "Seafood restaurants my friends like in Destin, Florida."
Reputation Management and Privacy
Are your customers uploading flattering photos of your business today? Facebook mentioned that only information that a person can regularly see (in other words, public) on Facebook would be revealed in search, so there is no need to worry about privacy yet.
However, keep in mind that nothing in Facebook is really private. For example, the photo you share with one person can be uploaded again as a public photo or a controversial photo from a competing venue could be added to your page.
Because the sharing of information will become even more important with Graph Search Results, you will need to monitor your content, engage your users and reply to both positive and negative comments. Encourage your customers with positive experiences with your business to share because those with negative experiences will go out of their way to make sure their friends know.
Now that we know that Facebook is looking for signals and associations to improve their Graph Search results, you need to find time to create content that users want to read, like and share. Start with a content audit. What assets do you have that you control? Do you have duplicate Facebook pages and places that need consolidation? How about pages with incomplete information?
Next, what are the assets that you can influence? Are there Facebook Pages that should link to you? Then, who are the influencers in your community? Are they aware of your product or service? Did they like your Facebook page?
As we continue to learn more about Facebook's Graph Search, remember that many of your customers have a smartphone with them all day long. And while they will not go to Facebook to "search," they will use a search engine or app to get recommendations from people they trust and discover new places from people like them. Businesses that understand this migration to mobile discovery and have Facebook pages will capture the Facebook audience, sending offers to prospects and keeping customers before they have a chance to go to a competitor.
Once Facebook's Graph Search is available to you, what type of category searches will you be using? Please share your thoughts or questions on this via the comments below or reach out via @SocialJulio if our agency can help you dominate your social shelf space.
Follow Julio Fernandez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SocialJulio