Marketers wrestle with Facebook's Graph search

Tool could prove a powerful ally in steering people towards products and services but what impact will it have on brands?

Facebook's Graph Search could be a powerful tool for steering people toward products and services on the social networking site, and marketers are starting to wrestle with the impact it may have on their brands.

Graph Search allows users to perform searches that let them uncover things their friends have shared with them on Facebook. It can also help them discover things like popular restaurants or shops in their area, based on what their friends have liked or talked about.

Marketers hope the results will help them make more connections with potential customers and become more visible on the site. But there are still a lot of unknowns that need to be addressed, speakers said during a panel discussion at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas on 8 March.

One issue is that users can "like" things for a variety of reasons, such as simply being polite, and can check in at places just because they happen to be there, not necessarily because they like the place. That could mislead marketers and other Facebook users about what is truly popular.

Other metrics, therefore, should be incorporated into Graph Search's results, they said.

"If the results aren't helpful because the only people coming up are the people getting the most Likes, it's not going to be helpful for anything," said Paul DeJarnatt, vice-president and search director at Starcom USA, a marketing and branding agency.

Others said it's hard to use Graph Search as a way to assess their level of engagement with fans or customers, because the service is still in beta and at the moment only a small fraction of users have access to it -- on the order of hundreds of thousands - and some marketing professionals haven't been able to try it yet either.

"The first thing is we haven't had it, and the fact that it's in beta makes it almost non-existent," said Natanya Anderson, director of social media at Whole Foods. "We have nothing to play with now."

For Graph Search to be effective in steering people toward brands and places, it first has to gain credibility among consumers and deliver useful results, speakers agreed. One way to make the results more credible and useful, they suggested, might be by applying a more sophisticated scoring algorithm so that weaker results based on only one or two metrics are not displayed so prominently.

"Social input and recommendation has its limits," said Darren McColl, vice-president of global brand strategy at SapientNitro. "As much as I love Whole Foods, I don't need to know 15 of my friends also love Whole Foods," he said.

"I would really like a measure that would help us say, 'This is relevant to me,' and a 'Like' button is not that," agreed Whole Foods' Anderson.

Facebook is in fact working on this idea, as engineers look to incorporate metrics such as user comments and status updates to compile and rank results.

Meanwhile, companies that do want to take advantage of how Graph Search works should carve out local identities on Facebook, as opposed to relying on a larger corporate presence, panellists agreed.

"Brands that can reach users as quickly as possible and localize their content as quickly as possible will trump those who spend hundreds of millions of dollars," said Peter Fasano, senior vice-president at Social@Ogilvy Atlanta, a technology consulting firm.

"If you're just pushing the same message out on your branded Facebook page that you're pushing on local Facebook pages, you're totally missing the boat," agreed Anderson.

Additionally, being able to see what the top searches are that are performed via Graph Search, in a fashion akin to Google Analytics, will help give businesses the information they need to improve their marketing efforts, speakers said.

Facebook launched Graph Search to a limited number of users in January.

More emerging technology trends

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Putting the ‘human element’ back in marketing

During the recent CMO Momentum conference, Paul Mitchell shared how marketing leaders can create cultures that deliver

Paul Mitchell

Managing director, The Human Enterprise

The rise and rise of voice search

In 1982, an AT&T employee by the name of Plotzke predicted the rise of voice: “In fact, it has been predicted that, by 1990, well over half the communications dollars spent by businesses will be for products and services that include voice technologies.

Michael Jenkins

Founder and director, Shout agency

Is design thinking the answer for the next generation of marketing?

The speed and pace of change will never be slower than we’re experiencing today. So in this era of unprecedented change, how can brands meet soaring consumer expectations, stay relevant and deliver differentiated and connected experiences?

Merryn Olifent

Senior consultant, G2 Innovation

I am seeking a loan in the amount of $ 90,000.00USD in an effort to consolidate all outstanding debt into one payment. I am trying to cle...

Angelina Marcus

Kmart turnaround chief to exit Wesfarmers, Target

Read more

I have been suffering from (HERPES) disease for the last two years and had constant pain, especially in my knees. During the first year, ...

Steven Kizzy

KPMG Australia appoints ex-Publicis leader as head of brand strategy

Read more

When they say they had to much focus on traditional media, this is code for very bad creative, and very bad category strategy, Clearly th...

Rob

iSelect outlines new approach to arrest ineffective marketing as its reports full-year results

Read more

play barbie games https://www.barbi-igre.net/

Karlo Bozak

Rethinking gamification in marketing

Read more

There are lots of software tools available online that can do what you are asking about and also trace the location of a cell phone and e...

Curtis Bacchus

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 August 2018

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in