As discussed in an earlier post, Facebook’s Graph Search (launched in beta January 15, 2013) is a powerful new opportunity for businesses to reach potential customers. The question is: what exactly is Graph Search and how can you achieve a first-mover advantage to leapfrog your competition? We’re here to share some ideas that should help you do just that.
Quick stats: according to Facebook, the social platform has more than 1 billion monthly active users who share 350 million photos, 2.7 billion likes, and 2.5 billion items of information each day. That is an enormous amount of information that so far has been extremely hard to search. This is the problem Facebook’s new search seeks to solve – in a nutshell, Graph Search allows people to search across the rich data set that Facebook has in a very personally relevant manner. Rather than try and explain in detail how Graph Search works, CNET and Gigaom have great articles that describe it well, including the underlying “Unicorn” infrastructure.
How can businesses prepare themselves to take advantage of this new way people are searching? The first thing to understand is that Graph Search is very different from web search (i.e. Google or Bing). It is powered by what people are liking and sharing, meaning it is about social connections as opposed to webpage inter-connections. Graph Search is poised to change the very fundamentals of search engine optimization (SEO), socially-informed search and content marketing. That doesn’t mean that you can’t apply some of the same thinking you would use for SEO to “social optimization,” though. Instead of developing strategies to build backlinks as you would for web search, you can develop strategies to build likes, shares, check-ins and comments – which are essentially the “backlinks” of social media.
To do this, there are a few common sense steps you should follow. First off, make sure you have a Facebook page. I know this sounds straightforward – but like any good story we should start at the beginning. There are several kinds of pages you can choose for your business, so be sure to choose the one that makes the most sense for you. MarketingGum has put together a good summary of the options available and some tips.
Now, what you might not know is that there is a good chance that your business may have an existing page (or pages) in Facebook already. This sometimes happens when you do not have an existing page and people checking in create a new page for your location. In some cases, your business may actually have multiple pages with different spellings of your company name, slightly different addresses, etc. It is very important that you go through the process to claim these pages and amalgamate them as necessary.
With your page set up and all “rogue” pages amalgamated, your next step is to fill out the “about” section of your page in as much detail as possible. Be sure to include your address, phone number, website URL, hours of operation and a good summary of what your business is about. If you are a business with multiple locations, you may want to consider Facebook’s Parent-Child functionality to ensure you have a local presence for each of your outlets.
Once these steps are completed, you are now set up for success because you now have a local address within Facebook and have included as much information about your business as possible. But you still have a lot of work to do, because Graph Search is all about how many likes, shares, comments, recommendations, etc. you receive. So your next step is to engage your customers to encourage these sorts of activities.
There is, of course, no one way to do this. Every company is unique and therefore every strategy has to be custom-tailored to your audience and brand. However, there are some common best practices for you to consider:
- Any good social media approach starts with great content. Be clear on what your editorial voice is, create a content calendar and source quality information that your customers care about
- Tell people about your social presence through every avenue you have. This includes your website, but also consider how you can use your stores and staff as opportunities to “spread the word”
- Specials and offers are a great way to engage people, and one of the main reasons people follow brands on Facebook
- Check-in deals encourage people to check-in when physically visiting your store to receive a coupon, which drives both engagement and sales
So, you might be wondering how this will help you achieve a first-mover advantage. Well, although these steps sound very simple, the majority of your competitors have likely not followed them. They likely have a page, but have they completed the about section, claimed all “rogue” pages and put a real effort behind building up their followers? Probably not. So, if your business does this first, you have a real chance to move ahead of the pack and grow a sizable audience in advance of Facebook Graph Search’s full rollout, which gives you a position advantage ahead of your competitors before they even know what’s happened.
Success breeds success, so done well this advantage can exist for some time. If you outrank your competitors in social search results right out of the gate, then you will be seen more, and being seen more leads to more engagement which keeps you on top – a virtuous circle of success is a real possibility. But it all starts with being that first mover, which means taking action NOW to jump ahead of your competitors in likes, shares, comments, etc. Is your business ready?
To learn more about implementing Facebook Parent-Child for your multi-location business, email firstname.lastname@example.org.