Facebook Graph Search: The Good, The Bad, and the Very Ugly
Whenever Facebook launches a new product, feature, or update, I can roll my eyes and brush it off as just a lot of hype. The announcement that Graph Search would be made available to everyone soon received the same treatment from me. I signed up, however, because I have a lot of clients who rely on Facebook analytics, and I figured that it couldn't hurt to be “in the loop.” The things I have learned since, are very important and should be considered very carefully for your small business Facebook page.
The Good: Graph Search makes it easy to see all of the employees that work at the same company
Feel like connecting with all your old buddies that used to work at the local diner? Hoping to check out how many employees work for your main competitor? Facebook Graph Search allows you to type in a Facebook fan page company name and specify to see "all people that work at XYZ company." A list of Facebook profiles that have that company name listed as their employer will show up, complete with profile photos. You can easily connect with old colleagues, buddy up with potential new clients, or just see how everybody is doing since you last worked with them.
The Bad: Graph Search makes it easy to see all of the employees that work at the same company
The flip side to this, and there always is a flipside, is that employees with less than appropriate tastes and profile photos will show up under searches for your company name. Worried about profiles with string bikinis, beer bottles, or gang signs? You'd better implement a company wide Facebook policy, asking that employees not mention your company in their profiles, or insist that they cover up.
The Good: Graph Search lets you (finally) see profiles for your fans
While Facebook had allowed you to see a limited number of your fans, the process of scrolling through was tedious. The new Graph Search abilities, not only let you see all of your fans in a grid, but it even allows you to drill down into demographic details about them, including marital status, language, employer, and location. This new information is useful in seeing if your fan base accurately represents those in your target audience. If you're not seeing the engagement you'd like from your Facebook fan page, a quick glance at your fans may tell you why.
The Bad: Graph Search lets you (finally) see profiles for your fans
As with our example of employee profiles, you may find that your fan base is anything less then savory. If you acquired a large number of fans via a third-party agency, through poorly targeted Facebook ad campaigns, or as a result of pay per fan schemes, you may find the majority of your Facebook fan profiles are showing a large number of users outside of your desired market. While the results may be shocking, (perhaps you are seeing that very few of your Facebook fans actually speak English?), it is a good first step in helping you rectify the situation. Take it in stride and understand that everyone makes mistakes.
The Good: Graph Search lets you search profiles for your competitors fans
All of us like to peek in on our competitors every now and again, and one desire of mine has been to be able to see just who likes my competitors' Facebook fan pages. Facebook's Graph Search now lets you do so, by showing results similar to searching for your own fans. One additional awesome feature is that you can search for terms like "People who like XYZ Company and ABC Company" to see where your fan bases may potentially overlap. You can also use your competitors' Facebook fan info to reach out to those that may not like you yet, but whom you have already established a relationship with -- in a non-spamming way, of course.
The Bad: Graph Search lets you search profiles for your competitors fans
Just as I mentioned above, with any good amount of information, there is likely to be something that you don't want to know about. If your competitor, for example, has just as many or even fewer fans than you, you may think that you are actually doing something better. If, as you are perusing through their fans, we see that they just have better fans than you, you can see that numbers really aren't good indication of how well you're doing. This news may be a bummer first, but like any opportunities for improvement, it's information that only help you in the long run.
As you can see, Facebook's Graph Search opens up the door to so much more insight into the people that use Facebook and the brands and businesses that they like. I think that this will blow the door wide open to exposing some of the scams that have been used to inflate Facebook fan numbers over the last couple of years, and will put an emphasis where it belongs - on fan quality and engagement - rather than just a increase in analytics.
If you're not already taking advantage of Facebook Graph Search, is in beta mode and not open to everyone. If you'd like to get on the waiting list, however, simply access this page while logged into your Facebook account, scroll down to the sign up button, and ask to be added.