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Hands on With Facebook’s Graph Search – Here’s What You Should Know!

I was overjoyed this past weekend when I was granted access to Facebook Graph Search. I have spent hours playing with it and I have to say, I am very excited about the possibilities it brings. From both experience with the tool and independent research, I have gained some insight which I think will help marketers and brands prepare for its impact. The following is what I have learned from my hands on experience with Facebook’s Graph Search.

The Basics

Graph Search will show users results based on their own connections and presumably their connections’ connections if needed. Facebook’s goal with this is to help users find things that are the most relevant to them. Here are some more notes on the basics of Graph Search.

  • Search results are prioritized by a user’s connections, meaning things that their friends or friends of friends have said, done or recommended publicly on Facebook.
  • Search results will vary from user to user.
  • There are 12 results served per page.
  • The search results page can be filtered by a few options:
    • Place type – Restaurant, Bar, Gym, Café, Hotel, ext.
    • Place category – More specific types of place.
    • Liked by – Users can filter results by Me, My Friends, My Family, and other users that the person frequently interacts with.
    • Name – Users and select a specific person and use them as a search filter.
    • Places in – Filters results by cities the user has visited.
    • Places near – Filter by places near the user or cities the user has visited.
    • Visited by – Filters results by places visited by a user’s friends
    • Searches can be extended by:
      • Photos of the places returned in search results.
      • Friends who have visited the places returned in results.
      • Videos from the places returned in results.

Search Result Details

While each search result will be tailored to the person doing the searching, it is interesting to take a look at the details of each individual result.

  •  Profile Picture – This comes from the place page.
  • Page Name
  • Star rating & price rating if applicable.
  • Category listings – The category the place is listed under. If there isn’t one, Facebook will assign one.
  • Physical address
  • Operating hours
  • Check ins
  • People the user knows who have visited the place
  • Likes
  • Additional options
    • Map listing – Shows the location on the map within the results page.
    • Visitors – See all of the user’s connections who have visited
    • Photos
Capture

Factors That Could Impact Search Results

This is purely speculation; however there are a few factors that would make sense when trying to identify how Facebook will organize the search results.

  • Amount of User’s friends who are also connected a place and their engagement actions
  • Friends who also like this place and their engagement actions.
  • Friends who engage with the place.
  • Friends of friends who are connected to the page and their engagement actions
  • Activity on the page place such as Likes, Comments, Shares, Check-ins.
  • Edgerank of the place page.
  • Number of fans on the page.
  • Place location in reference to the user who is searching. Places in proximity to user will likely have preference.
  • Recommendations. These have a star rating which I am unsure of exactly where they are pulled from. It’s possible they pull from Yelp.

Again, these are all assumptions, but based on the social mantra that Facebook preaches, we have to assume that these factors play a role in organizing the search results.

 Best Practices

From my hands on experience with Graph Search and other research articles, I have come up with some starter points as best practices.

  • Completely fill out “About” information, especially physical address & category. If category is left blank, Facebook will assign one for you. The more information that you provide Facebook, the better!
  • Use more photos! Only directly shared photos and videos will show in photo and video searches.
  • Continue to build the community. Strive to build an actionable Fan base and create engagement. Engagement creates stories, and stories create connections.
  • Strive to create strong connections between users. A connection is created when a user engages with a content piece. Think of ways to encourage sharing within your community.

Has anyone else received access to Graph Search yet? What are some other observations that you have?

Profile-Nathan

Nathan Mendenhall  is a social media professional with both B2B and B2C experience. He has worked with brands in a variety of different industries to create actionable social media communities and dynamic content strategies.

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