Facebook is changing. Again.
Last year, the social media powerhouse rolled out Timeline, a feature that set off a stream of concerns about privacy as it became easier than ever for visitors to scroll through years of Facebook posts. For businesses, though, Facebook Graph Search is likely to bring consumers. Rather than having to wait for a customer to recommend your company, you may find that searches are naturally leading new customers directly to your Facebook Page.
What is Graph Search?
Before we can dive into what Facebook Graph Search can do for your small business, it's important first to understand what it is. While other social media sites encourage users to connect with other users, Facebook has been a closed site. Finding others who share your interests has been impossible, with Facebook's search limited to people, places, and things. Type the word "restaurant" into the search box, and you'll receive a list of pages on the site related to restaurants.
But what if you want to find out Mexican restaurants your nearby friends have "liked" on Facebook? To do that under the current system, you have to manually search through each of your friend's pages and browse through each person's interests.
However, the new Graph Search will allow you to discover restaurants your friends have visited and liked. This same search will allow Facebookers to find friend-recommended healthcare providers, travel destinations, shops, hotels, and more.
Prepare your business for Graph Search
While consumers have privacy concerns about the new feature, businesses have every reason to be excited. Anything that can broaden visibility of your company's Facebook Page is welcome.
Want to try Graph Search early? While you're logged into Facebook, visit this page and sign up for the waiting list. Once you're in, you can experiment with how your business appears in search results.
While Facebook Graph Search is still in limited beta testing mode, take a look at your company's page to make sure its content and photos would be easy to find in a search. You never know when that photo of your storefront will lead a local consumer to your Facebook Page.
- Use Graph Search to identify pools of customers who already like you and might buy more from you.
- Use it to identify types of prospective customers who you might want to engage with your sponsored posts.
- Ensure your page is rich in information, so people searching Facebook can find your business. Make sure the "About" section of your Facebook page is filled out, complete with business hours and a full description of your services or products. Include the URL of your website to direct customers there.
- Don't impede on people's privacy in your search or try to "sell" them by exploiting any of their personal information from Facebook. Instead, engage them.
- Understand that this is a new service (when launched), so expect changes and evolutions.
Protect your company's reputation
While Facebook Graph Search is an exciting addition, it also brings some privacy holes that business owners need to seal up. By being aware of the dangers it brings, you can protect your business and add a new phase to your Facebook marketing strategies.
For example, many users are concerned that Facebook Graph Search can unearth long-forgotten, embarrassing photos from college bashes. Most professionals carefully guard their online reputations these days, knowing that undesirable online postings can negatively impact their careers, not to mention their businesses. To that end, make sure your Facebook Page has the content you need while you carefully review the content of any personal pages you have in place. Additionally, encourage any employees representing your business to do the same.
This story, "Prepare your small business for Facebook's Graph Search" was originally published by PCWorld.