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Facebook Social Graph Search Has Ups and Downs

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Facebook Social Graph Search Has Ups and Downs 3255-daily-golden-nugget-667Facebook recently announced that they will try to revolutionize online search by letting you find recommendations from your friends. The entire concept is still in the early phases and the usefulness is not quite clear. They call it the "Social Graph Search."

In the past they've tried to work their way into other technologies, like location based services and photo sharing, with mixed results. In some cases they had to force their new features on users when they were not adopted quickly.

As it exists right now, the bases for the search results Facebook is returning depends mostly on the business pages that people like. Facebook once had a limitation on the number of business pages that you could like, but that limitation was removed some time in 2012.

From your point of view, as a business owner, this new search feature will allow you to find people who like the brand pages for the designer lines you carry. People you find could be more accurately targeted in your advertising.

The ultimate goal of this social graph search is for users to search for things their friends recommend, but at the moment those recommendations are now based on reviews, but when people click the Like buttons or Like links on posts.

If you personally wanted to find the best Japanese restaurant in your area you could use this search to find out which of your friends have "liked" any pages or posts from local places. That's a simple search so let's talk about something a little more complicated.

A more complicated search could be that you want to find places that were recommended by people that you know, that have traveled to Japan, and have eaten at a Japanese restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada. Facebook would give you some ideas and you would know exactly where to go when you head to the next big jewelry convention.

There are three things that I foresee here that you need to be aware of...

First Item:

You have the ability to log into Facebook and "use it as your page." By default, whenever you post a message to your Page it will show your business names as the person posting. You usually have to manually switch back to your personal profile if you want to post an update using your real name. When using Facebook as your Page you can interact with other pages, as in leaving comments, liking their posts, and even liking their pages.

Although the actual functionality is unclear, I suggest that you spend a little time logged in using Facebook as your jewelry store, then start to Like all the pages for other businesses in your town that you are friendly with, or that have aligned businesses. For example, you could Like the pages for all the wedding photographers, tuxedo shops, wedding dress shops, department stores, local public figure pages, and greeting card stores. Over time you should also consider simply liking some of the posts they have on their page.

Another, perhaps more important idea, is for you to Like all the brand pages for each designer line you carry. You should also interact with their post.

These interactions will establish a relation between your jewelry store and these other businesses. The goal is to have that connection in place when someone decided to do an obscure search for other businesses.

Second Item:

It's long been argued by me that the number of people you have Liking your page does not matter as much as the way you engage with them. Several jewelers I know are more profitable with their small group of 200 Likes than others I know with 4000 or more Likes. A built in mechanism within Facebook (called EdgeRank) limits the number of people that see each of your posts based on the percentage of people who interact with regularly.

With fewer people you are more likely to have a higher percentage. Although many businesses might not understand how this percentage thing works, they realize that they attract customers from Facebook without trying much. The number of people who Like them is small, and they don't spend money trying to build their audience.

Enter social graph search... The chance of your store appearing in the social graph search results is probably close to zero unless you have thousands of people who Like your page. Simply put, this graph search is supposed to find answers from the "network" of people you are connected to. If a few people Like your page, then you have a very small "network."

And now for the evil Third Item that I foresee:

Facebook has taken many steps to insure that your posts will only be seen by a limited number of people unless you "promote" them or pay for ads. This limited visibility has stunted the legitimate organic growth ability for many pages. Therefore, you must pay in order to drastically increase the number of people who Like your page.

Bottom line is that it looks like Facebook will use this social graph search to entice you to build your number of followers, but to do that you will need to pay them. This is a completely backwards philosophy to the free nature of all search engines that have come before.
AT: 02/12/2013 06:22:31 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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