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Understand Something: Be Early on Facebook Graph.

The Most Important Searches You’ll Need on Facebook’s Graph Search

Facebook’s announcement of its new Graph Search system has been greeted with a giant raspberry. The company’s share price dropped 3 percent, and the reaction of the Internet has largely been a shrug in the general direction of the idea of using the Internet and a computer to search for stuff.

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Those of us who use Facebook to increase sales and build relationships, though, need to pay a little more attention. The announcement might have focused on user-end searches (finding people who live in the same town; who both work in the same company and like to ski, etc.) but the real benefits, and no doubt the incentive for creating the service, is for businesses.

In effect, Facebook has broadened the search criteria available to advertisers and thrown the results open to everyone.

But the company has also rigged the results.

Search results will be based on relationships and activity. So a search for people in your town won’t return a list of everyone on Facebook in Los Angeles or wherever you may be; it will return a list of people in your town who know people you know. That changes things a little.

For one thing, it makes the results a lot more useful. When you act on those results, when you “friend” the people Graph Search delivers, you’ll be contacting people who already have a certain amount of trust in you. You have a second-degree relationship with them.

The Three Searches You Need to Know

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And it means that for businesses, three searches will be the most important.The first will be a search for people who have bought your product. If friends of friends have bought your product but aren’t following your page on Facebook, you’ll want to bring them on board. You’ll want to friend them so that they buy from you again in the future.

You’ll also want to know which of your contacts they know. (Facebook supplies that information in the search results. That will let you follow the train of influence from first buyer through recommendation to second buyer, and so on.) You’ll get a better idea of who your key influencers are.

Your second search will be for people who have bought your competitors’ products. You might not be able to win them over, but you’ll certainly want to try.

Those two searches are fairly basic. The third search though is less obvious, will be ongoing, and will be much harder.

You’ll need to look for ways to win “likes.”

If someone has used a product but not liked it on Facebook, that activity won’t show up in Graph Search. When a user looking for recommendations searches for “People who bought [your product]”, you’ll win fewer results.

When it comes to the Graph Search SERP, “likes” have the same role as page-links; the more you can gather, the more often you’ll appear.

Graph Search is still in limited beta so sign up so that you can use it as soon as it rolls out. Expect to pull up some interesting information — and expect to be spending time trying to affect those results too.

I repeat.  It is in beta, but be early on the Facebook Graph.

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