by Tracy Mu Sung
Last week Facebook announced the ‘Social Graph’, a beta project allowing better search of information stored in Facebook. This means that not only will you get better, cleaner results when you are searching for people you know, you will also be able to find people with certain interests, and/or find information about people who like certain things. E.g. in the example below, Mashable has done a search for “Tv shows that Engineers like”.
Supposedly, nothing private will be made public to help these results – it is just improving the current search capability. However, having said that, Facebook is a prolific changer of privacy rules – so who knows what could happen next?
Is this a game changer? A Google-beater? A stock-saver? Let’s have a think through the pros and cons;
– Individuals can use this feature to find things they like, in a “if you liked this, you’ll love that” kind of way.
– You can find people who like the same things you do (but then, see cons for next step).
– It offers a new opportunity for marketers, allowing them to see how likes and interests are related, or the tastes of certain demographics. While marketers might not be able to extrapolate this information right now, Facebook has done a great job of showcasing the potential capabilities.
– Amid increasing privacy concerns of Facebook users and the Instagram ownership debacle – will Facebook have trouble encouraging its users to keep liking things now that people know there is an increasingly powerful search function which can be used on all this data?
– Once you find people who like the same things you like – how would you connect? Why would they accept you? Facebook is mostly a closed network for friends, especially with increased privacy concerns.
What does this mean for marketers?
Well, not a lot has changed for getting your own profile seen, you still need to abide by these best practices;
– Make sure you have a Facebook presence
– Make sure you’re engaged and sharing great content
– Make sure you choose a good page name, vanity URL and appropriate category
– Optimise your ‘About’ section, as you would for search (i.e. balance between optimising for users and robots).
– Update your address if you care about local searches
For market researchers, there just opened up a tantalising opportunity for future data mining. While it is unlikely that Facebook would let them have this info for free, I can imagine it being integrated into the Facebook Ads interface. Or maybe you will be able to buy information on the different demographics or interest groups. Facebook has shown that it has the potential.
For ad buyers it will be interesting to see the next step of this development – monetisation. Marketers would be very interested to see ad purchasing available on such searches.