Introduced last month, Facebook's latest innovation is called Graph Search. More than just a new search interface for Facebook, Graph Search actually changes what is possible with the social network.
For marketers, Graph Search opens up a whole new world of interconnected data—not that different from Ryan Egan's prediction of Facebook Psycho Analytics. We can now see how users are connected to the pages, places, and things that they like, and how each of those factors are related to each other. What are the favorite books of people living in Sioux Falls? (Answer: The Bible and Harry Potter.) Which restaurants are liked by people who enjoy water skiing? (Answer: Dairy Queen and Papa John's.) How are the favorite movies of people named Alistair different from the favorite movies of people named Rex? (Surprisingly, there's more overlap than you might imagine. Fight Club, anyone?)
You can use Graph Search to research the top Likes of users who have liked your brand, and use that information to make smarter online and offline marketing decisions.
For business owners, the Like becomes even more valuable. In the past because of Facebook's EdgeRank algorithm, a page Like was only as useful as the time you put into updating and maintaining your business page; if you didn't create new and engaging content, fans would never see your page anyway. But with Graph Search, a Like becomes an important recommendation tool for your fans'—and your fans' friends'—searches.
Maybe I'm looking for a new dentist, and want to see which pages my friends have Liked. Currently, not many friends have Liked a dentist page. But because of Graph Search, every dentist in town will want to capture my friends' Likes, to show up at the top of my Facebook search results. Social signals have always been a rather ambiguous part of Google SEO, but they become key for the new Graph Search SEO.
Facebook's ultimate goal is to increase the number of "local Likes" simply because of the usefulness of Graph Search.
"There are now new reasons to make these connections. We’re hoping the existence of that will encourage it," said Tom Stocky, director of product management at Facebook, who has worked closely on the Facebook search product.
- Search Engine Land
Three years ago, Facebook introduced the Like Button, gaining real estate on nearly every website in the process. It's not outlandish to think that with Graph Search as Facebook's self-proclaimed "next big thing", user interaction with those Like buttons will be changing as well.
To sign up for Graph Search yourself, simply scroll down to the bottom of this page while logged-in to Facebook. When you get access to Graph Search, be sure to try all of the queries above, as well as other fun ones like photos I've liked, pages liked by people who like Click Rain, or restaurants nearby.