A Guest blog from Deploy Dental. The opinions expressed are from Deply Dental not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.
By: Deploy Dental
At a recent media event, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg commenced with what had been built up as a major and secretive announcement. The two competing theories that seemed to dominated online discussions was that Facebook would unveil either a phone or a search engine. It turned out to be the latter, and while a phone may have been more exciting to consumers, the opportunities a Facebook search engine provides to business owners and marketers is much more valuable in the long run.
Called “Graph Search,” it is not (initially at least) meant to compete with Google for everyday Web searches. Rather, it is simply a tool that makes it much easier to find content that has been shared within a user’s network.
People, Photos, and Interests
The first three demonstrated areas of Graph Search were all somewhat pedestrian; adding to the ease of user experience as opposed to significantly changing the product. The application of search means that, instead of having to view a specific user’s page or timeline and manually finding a post they made, one can simply search for it using keywords. Facebook really did a good job on what they called ‘normal language’ searches, meaning that longer phrases can be used to narrow down results. An example used in the presentation was “friends in San Francisco.” The result displayed all the friends, and friends of friends, who live in that city. The same was demonstrated for friends with specific interests, and for photos from certain events or time periods.
Perhaps the area of Graph Search that means the most to businesses and marketers alike, is the ability to search for places. During the presentation, they specifically mention using this feature to search for a local businesses like dentists or restaurants in San Francisco. This puts Facebook right in the mix as a new medium for search marketing.
Potential Ranking Factors for Local Searches
According to the presentation, the number one factor that determines how a business ranks for a local search is interaction within a user’s network (i.e. friend’s likes). However, it was also mentioned that several other factors make up Facebook’s proprietary algorithm, and that an emphasis would be placed on fresh and accurate information. We can speculate that these factors may include such things as number of likes, amount of posts, comments, pictures, fan interaction, and perhaps even level of page customization. It only makes sense that Facebook will give priority to those local businesses that utilize the platform to its fullest extent, so it is more important than ever for business owners to participate and build a Facebook audience.
Paid Search Marketing
During the question and answer portion of the event, the issue of keyword-based, paid search results was brought up… and then flatly put to rest. At this time, the keyword entered by a user will have no effect on the resulting ads displayed in search results. They seem to be focusing mainly on user experience rather than generating revenue. But with that vast opportunity for revenue, it would be hard to see a traditional keyword-based pay per click model being adopted in the future, since much more relevant ads could be served to users based on interests expressed in the search.
Partnership with Bing
During the presentation, Mark Zuckerberg stated that Graph Search would also be incorporating Microsoft Bing search results, but only when a search could not return any relevant social content (the example put forth was checking weather conditions). As of yet, Facebook is not looking to directly compete with Google, but again, considering the potential revenue it would be hard to see Facebook not implementing this sometime in the future. It could very well be that Bing will be used to incorporate an entire web search, with Facebook fan pages acting as local businesses listings, similar to how Google uses its map listings (Google+ Local).
As more information becomes available we will continue to keep you updated. As of right now, Graph Search is in Beta (testing) mode, so is limited to only a select but growing number. You can, however, see a preview of Graph Search and join a waiting list by visiting the tool here: http://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch