For many of Facebook’s 1 billion users, there has been a persistent frustration in the social network’s search function. All of that is about to change now with the release of Facebook’s new Graph Search.
Hands down, the lumbering giant in the field of search and social search, thus far is Google, but there is one thing even Google can’t index – what our friends and larger community are interested in. In this regard, Facebook is taking a giant and exciting new step into the future of search by allowing its users to find answers to searches within Facebook, based on what their friends (and even those friends’ friends) have ‘Liked’, commented on, and where they’ve checked in. As you could imagine, your practice’s Facebook page just became more important than it ever has been before!
So, what exactly is Graph Search?
Graph Search is a completely new way for users to search their massive web of connections within Facebook. The big idea behind Graph Search is to tie in personal experiences to make searching for people, places, photos, and interests ultimately more social.
With Graph Search, Facebook will now be able to pull data from users’ collected ‘Likes’, check-ins, and other public information to deliver tailored results when someone searches for a specific question, such as “what dentists do my friends like?”
For instance, if a user were to search such a question, relevant business pages of dentists his or her friends and their friends have ‘Liked’ or checked-in to, would be ranked and listed on a results page. In both these examples of searches on Facebook, we can really see that Graph Search is going to provide much more socially relevant results for searches that users rely on. It is important to note that Graph Search hasn’t been fully implemented just yet and is only available as beta to a handful of current Facebook users.
How will this affect your practice?
When Graph Search goes into full effect, a search for results that are relevant to your practice done within Facebook will rank business pages according to some really important factors. These factors include Facebook activity and engagement levels; meaning, how often your audience interacts with your posts will have a direct influence on how you show up in search results.
The photos you’ve been posting to your Facebook page, the status updates you’ve been making, the number of ‘Likes’ you’ve obtained, and the amount of check-ins your page has – these are all built into Graph Search’s indexing system and will dictate your search ranking!
And perhaps one of the most exciting features for businesses in Graph Search is that searches will now factor in “friends of friends.” For instance, results for a relevant search will scour not only the user’s direct friend network but also a much larger network of the friends of the user’s friends.According to a recent study by the Pew Center’s Internet and American Life Project, the average number of friends a Facebook user has is 245. So, for each ‘Like’ of your Facebook page, your network of potential new patients is vastly increased – and reaching that network is vitally important for your practice. The Graph Search will make it easier for that network to find you, but you need to be making the right moves on your Facebook page right now.
As we always stress, the most important factor to your social media success is staying actively involved and engaging your fan base. If your patients are not connecting with your Facebook page and interacting with it, the Graph Search will have no way of targeting you in relevant search results for potentially new patients!
What should you be doing?
Engagement is always the key to social media success, and the only real way to win in the Graph Search is to post content that your patients are likely to interact with. ‘Likes’, comments, shares, and check-ins have always been critical components to reaching a larger network of potential new patients, but with Graph Search, the stakes just became a lot greater!
If you’ve been paying attention to your Facebook page, you’ll know that your patients are looking to see the personable side of your practice. Entertaining photos and posts that tie you into your community generate the most activity, so your focus should be on collecting this sort of content!
Some final notes on Graph Search
While Facebook’s new Graph Search is currently in beta testing (only a handful of users can use it at this point), what you do starting now with your Facebook page can be a gigantic step in the right direction when the new search function is fully implemented. The Graph Search will be collecting data retroactively, so focusing on capturing and posting great content and engaging your audience right away will be a tremendous help.
There are quite a few unknowns with the full potential of Graph Search, so in the future, new ways to take advantage of the feature will present themselves as Facebook refines its service. For now – focus on engaging your Facebook audience in exciting and unique ways!