Trying to piece together Facebook’s announcement today from live blogs had me frustrated. Why would I care which of my friends like both Star Wars and Harry Potter (that is all of them). 😉
But after thinking about the new Open Graph Search system today, and then reading Erin Griffith’s piece on marketing potential, I can see some uses, and the biggest one I see as a marketer and business owner is that Facebook is going to become a powerhouse for lead generation.
I wrote last year about how Facebook was decreasing the value of a Like. Other writers questioned that notion, but as I talk to small business owners and Page Admins, they consistently talk about how their reach and engagement decreased in August and September of this year.
It felt like Facebook had tricked many of into putting effort into the system, only to then pull the rug out from under us. While I still don’t think a third party service, including Facebook, should be a place to focus marketing and advertising budgets, the Open Search Graph is certainly going to bring back the power of the Like.
How Facebook Open Graph Search will change the value of a Like.
Let’s use the example of looking for a plumber. In the past you would likely do a Google search or ask for recommendations on a social network. With Facebook Open Graph Search you just type your search into Facebook.
“Who is a good plumber?”
Facebook already has an extensive social graph just for you, and it seems they have figured out some natual language search.
If not from the start, then eventually you will likely be served up with a list of plumbers in your area that have the most likes from your friends.
This is a simplistic example of what Facebook could do. It is more likely that they will eventually weight your whole social graph into the results. You are more connected to some people? Then their liking a plumber will be more important. Your friend took the time to engage with said plumber (I know, get a life 😉 ), then that like will be weighted more.
Even with those qualifications, the Facebook Search return a list of plumbers with your friends images associated with the plumber.
You might look at a couple of the page or maybe then Google the same inquiry, but none-the-less, Facebook becomes an essential place you look when you are searching for a service.
That is lead generation, and that has been where the money has always been and likely will continue to be in the future.
Google dominates internet advertising because they understand intent. Facebook just took a significant step to figure it out too.
Why you still shouldn’t put all your “Likes” in Facebook’s Basket
We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that the results will stay purely based on the open graph data. If Facebook is successful at generating leads this way, the next step will be to allow businesses to get priority listings based on sponsored results.
Just as Google gives additiional placement to companies who pay for placement, so too will Facebook when they have a system figured out.
Those who have worked in any lead generating system understand that the game is always changing. The same type of dynamic nature that we have seen with Facebook Edge Rank and Google search algorithms will occur in Facebook search.
If you put a considerable amount of time into Facebook, the Open Graph Search should be viewed as a positive development. If you haven’t put time into Facebook, keep an eye out for opportunites as this new search features plays out.