Facebook Graph Search

POV: Facebook Graph Search

[Video source: Facebook]

Facebook announced Graph Search, a new form of search based on users’ individual social graphs. The new functionality, which is only available in Beta right now, will allow Facebook users to search for people, photos and places – all through the lens of their friends. Content that used to slide down a user’s Newsfeed is now potentially ever-relevant, as users can search for people, places, photos, and similar interests. Facebook search has long been one of the untapped resources within Facebook that will now become more usable by members and, likely, more usable by brands going forward.

The simple fact that Facebook users can find which of their friends are fans of Ford vehicles more easily, or have liked a brand application, may drive more discovery. This new search functionality may also breathe new power into the object “like,” as users can search for a most-liked post or piece of content, and brands will be able to capitalize on their fans as true word-of-mouth evangelists.

What is Graph Search?

Facebook Graph Search allows users to search, based on people, places, photos, and interests. Results can be segmented by interest and other profile variables (e.g., education, gender, relationship, etc.). Users’ privacy settings will determine what their connections are allowed to see.


Instead of searching only by name, users may find friends who share commonalities within their profile info or interest sections. Examples include “friends who live in New Paltz,” “people from my hometown,” and “friends who like Wonka candy.”


Users can discover physical locations their friends have been to, not limited to things like music venues and restaurants (sample results page to the right). Examples could include “Wolfgang Puck restaurants my friends have been to,” “countries my friends have visited that I’ve also been to,” “tourist attractions in Rome that my friends have visited.”


Without clicking to friends’ pages, users can now find tagged photos on a unique landing page, based on their search queries. Photo results will include those hidden from a user’s timeline. Examples include “photos of my friends before 1987,” “photos of the Space Needle,” and “photos I like.”


Users can now search based on similar interests, such as “friends who like to watch ‘Modern Family,’” “languages my friends speak,” “business books read by marketers,” and “friends who listen to The Avett Brothers.”


Your privacy settings will determine what others are allowed to see. With Graph Search, users can find items you’ve shared with them, including public content. This video from Facebook explains more:

Implications for Brands

More Opportunities for Facebook Users to Discover Your Brand

Graph Search opens the door for brands to become discovered more easily, by more people. Because Graph Search provides the ability to search for which friends have traveled to an exotic destination, or who has eaten at the hottest restaurants in the city, or who likes the same music, users will be able to find more people like themselves. And brands will be able to find more Facebook users who are potential fans – and potential brand advocates. It’s no surprise that Facebook users rely heavily on their social network for reviews and recommendations; now, brands can leverage those networks and recommendations on Facebook by ensuring they appear in users’ Graph Search results.

Increased Need to Ensure Content is Likeable and Shareable

We’re moving to an environment where SEO needs to be augmented with the optimization of social engagement. Search graph signals, such as Likes and Shares — whether on a Facebook page or on a website — will now increasingly be part of the process that determines whether your brand surfaces in search results on Facebook.  A similar process on Google already considers Google+ sharing and +1’s in search result visibility.

More People Finding Brands by Location

One of the filters that can be used is location. For example, a Facebook user could search for “friends who shopped for shoes near Chicago.” Because brands with physical locations will appear in Graph Search results, it’s important to make sure that your contact information – where your offices and retail locations are located – is readily available. After all, if a Facebook user is in hot pursuit for those shoes of yours that debuted during Fashion Week, you want her to be able to find them – and become a fan of your brand in the process.

Image Content has New Value for Brands

Who doesn’t love to scroll through their friends’ old photos on Facebook? Graph Search now allows users to search users’ photos with all manner of filters, such as “photos of friends near mountains,” “photos of friends taken before 1984,” and “photos of friends taken in Chicago.” Because users can search for photos in such myriad ways, brands should consider allowing fans to tag them in photos. (Of course, this opportunity should be weighed against reputational risk.) Additionally, brands should consider when it is appropriate to post images and albums of their own, with detail-rich captions and meta-data, so that their images appear in Graph Search, as well.

Community Management Best Practices Matter

According to Facebook, brands that are most popular among the Graph Search users’ closest friends will be displayed first. This means that it may not be enough just to get a Facebook user to “like” your brand page. More than ever, brands will need to exercise best practices in community management in order to build brand advocates on Facebook. Brands will need to establish relationships with their fans, and cultivate those relationships through two-way dialogue, in order to give the fans the opportunity to become ambassadors – and give the brands the chance to appear high in Graph Search results.

Paid Media May Connect with Graph Search in the Future

Currently, there are no new ad formats available with Graph Search (Sponsored Search results are still offered). Ads will not appear in the search results page, but don’t be surprised if that changes in the future. Bing Search results will remain part of the platform, and Graph Search may at some point provide a new way for brands to raise their visibility via paid media.


1.     How is Graph Search different from search engines?

Facebook has indicated that it is not developing a search engine, but with over a billion users on Facebook, it seems likely that users will start to turn to Facebook to run certain types of search queries that may have previously been run on Google or Bing. Graph Search does seem to compete with Google+. Facebook currently has a partnership with Bing to deliver Web search results.

2.     How is Graph Search different from current search options on Facebook?

Current search options allow users to search for people, places and things by entering a keyword. Graph Search allows Facebook users to search for which of their friends have specific likes/interests and allows for deeper segmentation. Some criteria users may search by include Likes/interests, employer, school, current city, hometown, friendship, relationship status, gender and language.

3.     Why do I see different search results than my friend, when we are searching for the same thing?

Search results are personalized for you and your network. Even though you are searching for the same thing, your friend’s network may be comprised of different Facebook users, who have different likes/interests.

4.     When may I start using Graph Search?

Graph Search is currently in beta testing to a small group of Facebook users in the United States. To join the waiting list to become a beta tester, visit facebook.com/about/graphsearch. A global launch date of Graph Search has not been announced publicly.

 5.     I want to learn more about Graph Search and its impact for my brand. What can I do?

Your Social@Ogilvy team can set up time with you to strategize around Graph Search, and walk you through steps to ensure that your brand page is maximizing possibilities to appear as a result in a Graph Search.