Does Facebook’s Graph Search Make a Difference?

Facebook social graphWe all hear the numbers from Facebook…..1 billion users….240 billion photos….1 trillion “connections”….as a marketer it’s hard to ignore Facebook, even though most Facebook users ignore us.

Let’s face it, people go to Facebook to be social. They are not really interested in looking at or clicking ads. The click through rate on Facebook ads is notoriously low. In our experience, not only is the click through rate low (which in of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if you think of it as a low-cost branding campaign), but the conversion rate from traffic has also been pretty poor.

So this week when I heard about Facebook’s new Graph Search, I initially got excited that finally there might be something useful for our business clients. The way Graph Search works, according to Facebook, is that a user can type in a natural language search (think of “friends who like chickens in Loudoun County”) and a list of their friends with those likes will be displayed. So as a business, it finally seems to make sense to be hunting for Facebook “Likes’ because you are more likely to show up as a Graph Search result.

Sounds great in principle, but a problem was created by the way the Facebook “Like” system worked. Facebook told businesses that users would see their posts in their news feeds if the users liked the brand’s page on Facebook. So big brands paid big money in terms of advertising dollars to acquire Likes. Today, it’s almost impossible to do anything on a brand’s Facebook page (get a coupon, enter a competition) without liking the page first….so where does that leave us? With a lot of Likes that would not have happened unless the brand hadn’t “paid” for them, and therefore a lot of erroneous results in Graph Searches, damaging its usefulness and credibility for users.

So, I’ve signed up for the beta trial of Graph Search, and for now it’s wait and see.