Since the launch of Facebook’s Graph Search product (which has yet to reach European audiences) there has been a lot of articles written and conceptual analysis done in terms of what this means for marketers, brands and behaviour. Some say it will change the way people use the site, others say it will change search behaviour altogether. The critics and skeptics have other opinions which I find increasingly intriguing. In this post, we’ll present both sides of the argument, discuss what brands and marketers should do to prepare themselves, and reflect on what Graph Search means for photos and video.
What is Graph Search?
It is a known marketing fact that word of mouth (WOM) can influence a brand, product or service. Whether or not that influence is positive or negative depends on consumer experiences and who you ask. Facebook knows that the power of a recommendation is very strong, particularly among friends and social circles. In fact, “92% of consumers believe a recommendation from a friend over marketing from a brand, according to Anna Banks, VP of strategy at Organic” (Source: MediaPost). Therefore, Facebook is counting on Graph Search to alter user behaviour on Facebook, which they hope will in turn become an advertising opportunity for brands. Whether users actually turn to Facebook for search instead of photos, videos and status updates remains to be seen.
What Does it Mean for Google?
The skeptics have analyzed whether another search tool will be able to break the Google habit so many people have come to adapt. According to an article by Eli Goodman, Habit = Confluence of Utility + Frequency (Source: Search Engine Watch). What that basically means is the more useful something is, the more frequent it becomes, which could ultimately turn into a habit. Will the average user turn to Facebook for their everyday search or only when they want to know something about their friends? The latter is more likely and the actual purpose of Graph Search according to Zuckerberg (Source: smallbusiness.yahoo.com).
How Should Brands Prepare?
Facebook has indicated that currently only 16% of brand content is seen by their fans, which means Graph Search could increase brand exposure given the appropriate content strategy is in place (ibid.). Brands ”should be aware of how crucial the information on their Pages is and that they are accurately tagged and organized so they show up in these new searches” (Source: adexchanger.com). So now is the time to start updating those company profiles and timelines with interesting content including photos and videos. Particularly given the fact that photos generate twice as many likes on Facebook and videos are shared twelve times more than links and text posts (Source: mediabistro.com)
Another perspective based on an article from Econsultancy suggests that marketers and brands should be afraid of Graph Search due to the fact that users may not like how much information they are able to see about their friends or themselves. For the first time, users will be able to see how much information they have shared with Facebook which could raise the well known privacy concern, and prompt them to change their behaviour not in Facebook’s favour. Regardless of the outcome, it’s never a bad idea to increase focus on brand profiles and make sure visual content is up front and centre.
About Preview Networks
Preview Networks is a content marketing platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.