In the world of social media, change is inevitable and indeed necessary but, I would argue, not always for the best. The jury is still out as to whether some of the more recent innovations such as Google+ and Twitter’s Vine are going to succeed in the long term but meanwhile the latest metamorphosis is Facebook’s search engine tool, Graph Search.
Bearing in mind that for many of us the prerequisite for becoming a Facebook friend is simply that someone has been nice enough to ask, this often leads to us having a contact list made up of the friends of our lesser known friends. For those of a certain age it is also striking that much of the activity on our Facebook pages is generated by those teenagers and students who have forgotten that they once deigned to include us and have also forgotten that, by default, we are therefore still included in their regular updates and illuminating photographs. Ask this lot about a good place for a night out in Glasgow and you might be onto something, my real-life friends say, but for goodness’ sake don’t trust them with anything important.
Many companies will share this view and will gamble on the possibility that Facebook’s venture will fail and will have no relevance in helping to raise their company profile. Having acquired one billion worldwide users since its launch in 2004, however, Facebook has a good track record in anticipating social trends, so choosing to ignore them is a brave punt in anyone’s book. For a business, it is courage that verges on recklessness because there is an each way chance that Facebook’s Graph Search may ultimately usurp Google’s crown.
By combining the huge influence of word-of-mouth recommendations with a worldwide search engine, Graph Search could provide those businesses that have maximised their Facebook presence with a Kauto Star style advantage over their competitors. Because it is not just your friends whose ‘likes’ are incorporated; the search will one day include the ‘likes’ of people of a similar background or similar interests to yourself. The quality of the search result should therefore be better and the level of relevance higher, although this may depend on the take up of the new concept, which is currently being rolled out in selected locations in the USA with a waiting list in the UK. Facebook intends that Graph Search will provide an opportunity to reach a wider and more specifically targeted audience and, if you do not take the chance, you can bet your bottom dollar one of your competitors will.
At the most basic level you should ensure that your company’s Facebook page is correctly classified and targeted to the appropriate sector and geographical area. Sporadic activity as and when you have the time, however, is not enough and content that is simply there to promote your business will bring little benefit. Including others in providing consistent content is therefore the next step and they should ensure that your Facebook persona encourages engagement and provides value. Those who meet this need and provide content that captures and engages attention, will race toward the higher end of Graphic Search’s search results.
With everything to play for, this may be the time to gamble on those clever people at Facebook having got it right (again).