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Using Facebook graph search in online marketing

Though it is still in beta, Facebook's graph search holds a lot of promise in the social media field for marketers. From microtargeting to local SEO, the possibilities for this new tool are many, and professionals should take advantage of it. Graph search was selectively rolled out early this year, and tens of millions of people were able to preview it and provide feedback. It is now live in the U.S. for all Facebook users. Due to the pre-release, many thought leaders have been able to make marketing strategy recommendations for its use. Some of these suggestions and tips on how best to leverage graph search for marketing are below:

Microtargeting with graph search
Graph search allows users to seek out pages and profiles based on a large number of factors. Not only are name, location and school or workplace searchable, but so are a user's interests and other public traits. Marketers can target consumers very finely with graph search, using characteristics like location, basic demographic information and likes. Such extremely specific markets as 26-year-old women employed in the tech industry who like a particular brand can be identified through graph search.

Of course, these insights may or may not be directly actionable. Reaching out to a specific target market through graph search results may be perceived as being out of nowhere and intrusive. Additionally, graph search advertising is not yet available on Facebook, though there are plans to implement it. The best way to use the data gleaned from graph search may be the refinement of social media strategies and buyer personas. These activities are not directly connected to graph search in a way that may unsettle Facebook users, but still allow marketers to leverage the immense data-collecting potential of this new search.

Local search engine optimization
Facebook graph search may be a great new medium for local businesses to explore. Users searching for a particular keyword or product by location can come across companies they were previously unaware of and be directed straight to their Facebook pages. Of course, savvy marketers will already have high-quality social media profiles set up for their organizations, which can help drive users into the sales funnel quickly and efficiently.

Many of the same principles that apply to local SEO on Google and other traditional search engines are also necessary to getting good results on Facebook graph search. Glowing reviews on Yelp and similar sites will continue to be vital to marketers, as Facebook does display these ratings in graph search results. Engagement is also key. Graph search results prioritize pages that users interact with the most – people will also tend to find businesses of which their friends and connections are fans. The more active a business' Facebook fans are, the more likely it is to get good rankings when other users search for related keywords in a particular area.

B2B challenges and how to overcome them
B2B marketers may have to think more laterally than their B2C counterparts in leveraging graph search. Members of their target demographic may not list particular business solutions on their profiles as interests or likes, as Facebook is a social site that spans personal and career use. It may be more useful to search by industries and companies for the purposes of microtargeting than attempting to search for B2B products; it is more likely that people will list their place and type of work than that they will like business products. Of course, part of the goal of B2B social media marketing is to compel users to like B2B companies and products on Facebook. As these efforts pay off, it will be visible via graph search.

Sheila Kloefkorn

With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.