When Mark Zuckerberg announced the launch of Graph Search in January, the Facebook world quickly divided into praisers & bashers.
Personally, I was praiser.
Sure, Graph Search isn't perfect yet -- and definitely not a replacement for Google search. But it's useful & powerful -- and in 2 years, it will probably be one of the top search engines on the net (if not THE top).
Of course, I could be wrong.
I also thought MySpace would never become irrelevant. Oops!
I was lucky enough to get access to Graph Search just a few days after Zuckerberg's press conference. Since then, I've been playing with it and getting useful results. But Graph Search is definitely not a complete research database yet.
In a previous blog post I mentioned how the act of "Liking" a page has taken on new meaning with Graph Search -- and how the Facebook "Liking" game has changed quite a bit with new search engine.
But now that the dust has settled and we've all seen Graph Search in action, I want to give you some action steps you can take to fully leverage Graph Search and get the most out of it.
*** Please note that Graph Search is still officially in "beta" -- so its power & utility could literally change overnight as Facebook figures out new patterns of usage & gathers more data.
Action Steps to Leverage Graph Search
1. Optimize your Page's About Section
Graph Search, like Google, is all about keywords. Therefore any information you put inside your About section will be crucial to getting found via Graph Search.
I'm not saying you should stuff your About section full of random keywords though. Just make sure it contains relevant words that describe your business AND words that people are searching for.
Ie. don't just add your businesses slogan or motto.
In addition to making sure your About section has relevant & searchable keywords, you should also make sure you select the correct Category & sub-category for your page.
Again, this will just make it easier for users to find you with Graph Search.
But I don't recommend filling out the "Official Page" section for now. I've seen reports of pages being converted into Community Pages after doing that. Better to leave this blank.
That said, if you're a franchise -- or if fans have created several pages for your brand -- then you might consider filling out the "Official Page" section.
One last thing -- make sure your About section shows your web address, phone number, etc. I wouldn't leave any fields blank.
2. Encourage Check-Ins
This tip only applies if you have a physical location where customers visit and do business with you. (Sorry digital product & service providers!)
With Graph Search, users can search for things like "BBQ restaurants my friends have visited" -- and get results like these:
To me this is the most exciting & crucial feature of Graph Search. Local businesses should be LOVING it and getting ready for it ASAP!
To make sure you're ready, you should select "Local Business" in the category selection, and also choose the appropriate business category.
I've heard that some pages can also select "Company or Organization" and then enter a business address. If you're able to do this, then apparently you also get the option of adding text to the About section that shows on your page's timeline -- instead of it just showing your address & business hours.
Once you have your address entered, you should encourage (and even give an incentive for) people to check-in when visiting your establishment. For example, if they check in on their phone, you give them a coupon or freebie of some sort.
The more people check in at your location, the easier it will be to find on Graph Search -- and the more business you'll get!
3. Grab your "Vanity" URL
By default Facebook gives you a really ugly URL for your page, similar to this:
Luckily, it's super easy to get a custom vanity URL.
Just click here: Facebook Vanity URL. Then select the page you want to get the URL for.
You may need to try different names to find one that hasn't been snagged already -- Facebook's a big place and most common names have already been taken.
If you're a local business I'd recommend adding your town's name to the end of it -- so it ends up like:
Or something similar. But only if your attempt at getting your business name doesn't work.
*** Bonus tip: You can't use apostrophes or any sort of symbol in your vanity URL -- and it's never a good idea to include symbols, quotes, apostrophes or dashes in your page's actual display name.
Doing so can throw off 3rd-party apps you might be using on your page.
4. Encourage Engagement
This should be something you're doing anyway. :)
And it's something we talk about at Post Planner quite often. But it will become even more important for your page to have great engagement once everyone is using Graph Search.
In Facebook's own words:
Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving your fans a reason to interact with your content on an ongoing basis.
The search results users get from Graph Search will be based primarily on the interaction their friends have had with pages.
For example, maybe you have the most awesome shoe store in Houston -- but if your page is a ghost town, then it might not show up in any Graph Search results at all.
How do you encourage engagement?
Oh Post Planners... let me count the ways. :)
Actually Josh just wrote a great guest post on Tabsite that discusses 3 types of posts you should post each day that's a great tutorial on getting more engagement. You might also check out our blogpost teaching you how to write better Facebook Status Updates.
They key takeaway here is that a dead page -- a page with little or no fan engagement -- probably won't show up much in the search results of Graph Search -- while a page with consistent, heavy engagement will float to the top of results.
5. Attract the Right Fans
Having the right fans is vastly more important now with Graph Search -- especially for local businesses on Facebook.
It may be cool to say you have 8,000 fans -- but if they aren't engaging as described above, what's the point? And if they don't consist of any influencers in online or offline communities, they're definitely not helping your page much.
What do I mean by "influencers"?
Basically, you want fans with a large friend-base or following to be liking your page. If Joe only has 15 friends, his page Likes aren't going to influence Graph Search results much.
But if Jim has 1,200 friends -- and they're all within a 30 mile radius of your business -- then you definitely want Jim to Like your page & engage with it often.
Seriously, folks... I can't underscore this enough! -- There is HUGE potential value in having the right kind of fans on your page.
And the best way to get them is through Facebook Ads. Yes, those things that cost money -- and that Facebook addicts love to gripe about.
Remember -- if you're a business, you're also a marketer. So embrace Facebook Ads and do everything you can to master them.
Don't bash them.
They are far & away the most advanced tool for customer acquisition that we've ever had online. Sure, Google has great search ads, but they require an action (a keyword search) on the part of the user.
On Facebook the user just has to log in and they will start seeing targeted ads.
My advice: learn how to run a Promoted Post, or a Sponsored Story RIGHT NOW!
And don't forget to target!
In fact, the #1 secret to effective Facebook Advertising is "Targeting". You should be targeting your ads by location, age, gender, interests (Likes), etc.
If you target your fan page ads towards your ideal customer, I guarantee you will get higher quality fans.
But if you target everyone and their dog, then I guarantee you will either get a ton of fans who couldn't care less about your product -- or you'll just blow threw a wad of cash and have nothing to show for it -- and swear never to run a Facebook Ad again.
You might also be tempted to run a Facebook contest to attract more fans. This is great idea and I highly encourage it.
But again, make sure you target potential customers with your contest, not just anyone. And make sure your giveaway is relevant to your product or business. Ie. don't just give away another iPad! -- although I'll take one if you're giving it away! :)
6. Post More Photos
And photos will take on even more importance with Graph Search -- and with the new News Feed that's rolling out. Graph Search seems to be very image driven -- ie. most search results seem to be based around images.
A smart business, especially a local business, will post lots of photos -- and also encourage fans to tag themselves in those photos. Or better yet, encourage fans to upload their own photos to the page.
Are You Ready for Graph Search?
Graph Search has a long road ahead of it -- and it will be some time before it even puts a dent in Google's domination of search. But as Facebook iterates on the product and gathers more & more data, I can see a time not so far away when many of us rely 100% on Graph Search to find the stuff we're looking for.
Especially once Graph Search is available on the mobile devices!
So if you're marketing your business on Facebook, follow the 6 steps above and get ready for Graph Search now.
Don't let your competition beat you to it!