Getting To Know Your Audience Using Facebook Search

Face­book search­es reveal valu­able infor­ma­tion about your audi­ence’s inter­ests.

Bas van den Beld By Bas van den Beld from State of Digital. Join the discussion » 1 comment

Being vis­i­ble on Face­book is increas­ing­ly get­ting more dif­fi­cult for brands. Face­book’s new algo­rithms iden­ti­fy and sup­press “less valu­able” posts brands share and rewards those shar­ing con­tent that real­ly speaks to an audi­ence. If you want to be vis­i­ble on Face­book, then you have to make sure your audi­ence craves the con­tent you’re cre­at­ing. Oth­er­wise, Face­book won’t even show it to your audi­ence. That’s why it’s crit­i­cal to under­stand what your audi­ence wants.

Luck­i­ly Face­book itself pro­vides infor­ma­tion that can help you get to know your audi­ence. Audi­ence Insights and the Looka­like Audi­ence fea­ture are a cou­ple of ways to get start­ed.

This arti­cle will focus on a “hid­den” source, one that most peo­ple know is there, but don’t use often enough: Graph Search.

There’s a lot you can do with Graph Search to find infor­ma­tion about your tar­get audi­ence. Smart search­es will reveal a lot of valu­able infor­ma­tion about your audi­ence’s inter­ests. Recent changes have made it a lit­tle bit more dif­fi­cult, but you can still get to know your audi­ence bet­ter with the help of Face­book search.

How Does Graph Search Work?

Before you can start research­ing you have to under­stand how Graph Search works. Graph Search isn’t a nor­mal search engine. It’s social search, based on the graph with­in Face­book. This means that there is a big eye for the con­nec­tions and rela­tion­ships between peo­ple and enti­ties.

When Face­book first rolled out Graph Search, this was the main focus of Facebook’s search: search through con­nec­tions. In the lat­est update Face­book also made the posts search­able, mak­ing the expe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent and much more focused on what is being said instead of the con­nec­tions. How­ev­er, using the dif­fer­ent tabs with­in Face­book Search and the right fil­ter sen­tences still allows you to see a lot of the infor­ma­tion from inside the Graph.

An impor­tant thing you need to know is that we are using search fil­ters based on sen­tences. By ask­ing Face­book ques­tions you can get the right infor­ma­tion out.

That is exact­ly what we’ll be doing. Let’s dive in!

What Are Your Audience’s Interests?

To be able to post the right things, we want to know what our audi­ence likes – what are their inter­ests? By search­ing “Favorite inter­ests of peo­ple who like [page­name]” you will see inter­ests that the peo­ple who like your page have told Face­book.

Inter­ests” are what Face­book users add to their pro­files. It will give you an insight on what they feel is impor­tant to them.

Say I’m a mar­ket­ing man­ag­er for Coca-Cola. When I would search for “Inter­ests liked by peo­ple who like Coca-Cola”, I would get a list of search results back. The results starts with the search results of my friends talk­ing about any of the terms men­tioned, but I am most inter­est­ed in the inter­ests of the peo­ple, so I will click on “See More” to see the inter­ests of peo­ple.

From here you can start fil­ter­ing. Face­book used to have easy fil­ter­ing options, unfor­tu­nate­ly their last update removed those options, so we’ll need to use small workarounds, using the right sen­tences.

The first thing I want to make sure of is that my own friends don’t influ­ence the results I see too much, thus I want to fil­ter them out. To do this I will adapt my search to: “Inter­ests liked by peo­ple who are not my friends and like Coca-Cola”

Now notice that my friends will still show up as part of the group that like cer­tain things, but doing the search like this gives me a clear­er view.

What Can I Do With This Search?

As a con­tent mar­keter or social mar­keter you want con­tent to spread and reach the right audi­ence. But you also want to get some­thing out of it. For that you want to find that exact cross­ing point between what you have to say and what your audi­ence wants to hear. In this case you can use the inter­ests to find an over­lap.

Let me give you an exam­ple: I can see here that peo­ple who like Coca-Cola are also inter­est­ed in choco­late and pho­tog­ra­phy. This gives me a few con­tent ideas to work with:

  • Maybe I could search for pic­tures of peo­ple drink­ing Coca-Cola and eat­ing choco­late, or empha­size what oth­er things are good to eat with a Coke.
  • Both Coca-Cola and choco­late have a lot of calo­ries in them, maybe high­light­ing Coca-Cola Light here is an option.
  • Focus­ing more on the pho­tog­ra­phy part, I could ask my audi­ence to share their most beau­ti­ful pic­tures of a Coke bot­tle, and share my own;

Just like that, three ideas to work with!

What Other Pages Do People Like?

More data that is inter­est­ing for me is to find out what oth­er pages peo­ple like.

By search­ing “Pages liked by peo­ple who like Coca-Cola” you will get an overview of oth­er pages that peo­ple who liked your page liked.

It is essen­tial here that you look beyond the obvi­ous. Be sure to scroll down to find inter­est­ing pages, and again use the fil­ter option of elim­i­nat­ing your friends from the list to be sure you aren’t in your own “bub­ble.”

A search like this can help you get a bet­ter under­stand­ing of your audi­ence, to again make the right updates, but also for exam­ple to find out what pages to inter­act with, or where to adver­tise.

Narrowing It Down

All this gives me some basic infor­ma­tion about my (or in this case Coca-Cola’s) audi­ence. But we might want to be more spe­cif­ic. We want to know who these peo­ple are. Can we per­son­al­ize our mes­sage to them?

A sim­ple search gets us under­way.

This search above can be made even more spe­cif­ic. Think back on the choco­late inter­est we found amongst Coca-Cola fans ear­li­er. We might want to know exact­ly who those peo­ple are.

There are dif­fer­ent vari­eties on this search:

  • Peo­ple who like Coca-Cola and live in Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands” will get me an overview of Coca-Cola fans in Ams­ter­dam.
  • Peo­ple who like Coca-Cola and major in Edu­ca­tion” will give me peo­ple who like Coca-Cola and have stud­ied edu­ca­tion, so who might be teach­ers.
  • Restau­rants in Ams­ter­dam, Nether­lands liked by peo­ple who like Coca-Cola” will give you a list of restau­rants Coca-Cola’s fans likes.
  • Musi­cians liked by peo­ple who like Coca-Cola” will show you what musi­cians and bands they like.
  • Cur­rent coca cola employ­ees who like hors­es” will show you the peo­ple who work at Coca-Cola and who like hors­es.

But there are many more. Find those that fit your brand.

Like with the oth­er search­es, these make you under­stand bet­ter how to tar­get your audi­ence, but it will also help you more by under­stand­ing where to find part­ner­ships and where to phys­i­cal­ly be present. Doing the right search­es might pre­vent your from being in the wrong place at the wrong time and might help you be in the right place at the right time.

It can also be use­ful in your out­reach to know the inter­ests and likes of peo­ple work­ing at a cer­tain com­pa­ny.

Use The Navigation Bar To Find Groups, Events And More

Now let’s look at the nav­i­ga­tion bar above the search results. A search for “Peo­ple who like Coca-Cola” can be fil­tered down into the cat­e­gories Face­book presents. This will allow you to see the groups your audi­ence is part of, the events they are going to, and even pho­tos they took, for exam­ple.

The Freaky Level

Before I let you go to work, I want to also point out the “freaky lev­el” of Graph Search. Because of the way Graph Search works, you can do some inter­est­ing search­es that will give you some stun­ning results – results that will show you some con­nec­tions you might not be aware of, or in some cas­es maybe don’t even want to know. But they could be use­ful in some ways.

Take for exam­ple the search “Peo­ple who like Pep­si and work at Coca-Cola”. This will show you which peo­ple at Coca-Cola actu­al­ly “like“ their com­peti­tor.

Now this is fair­ly inno­cent (though if you try this with oth­er brands you can find some very fun­ny results), but we can make it more excit­ing.

Did you know you could see which of your fans are divorced, for exam­ple?

Or which of the peo­ple work­ing at Coca-Cola are divorced?

Or which of those are on the dat­ing cir­cuit?

It could even uncov­er infor­ma­tion that some might not want to have out there:

It can get quite per­son­al, because each of those search­es will give you a list of peo­ple you can each tar­get very specif­i­cal­ly. I’m not urg­ing you to aim for the “weird” search­es; you just have to be aware of them.

Start Getting To Know Your Audience Now

These are just a few sim­ple search­es to start get­ting to know your audi­ence, but you can take it as broad as you want. There are many more search­es you can do to find out a lot of things about your audi­ence. The chal­lenge is not get­ting lost and find­ing the crossover between you and your audi­ence so you can cre­ate the right con­tent at the right time to make that con­nec­tion.

Real­ly try and play with this and find out a lot about your audi­ence and your com­peti­tors’ audi­ence on Face­book. And let me know how that goes!

Are you already using Face­book search to learn about your audi­ence’s inter­ests?

Bas van den Beld

Written by Bas van den Beld

Digital Marketing Strategist, State of Digital

Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.

Inked is published by Linkdex, the SEO platform of choice for professional marketers.

Discover why brands and agencies choose Linkdex

  • Get started fast with easy onboarding & training
  • Import and connect data from other platforms
  • Scale with your business, websites and markets
  • Up-skill teams with training & accreditation
  • Build workflows with tasks, reporting and alerts

Get a free induction and experience of Linkdex.

Just fill out this form, and one of our team members will get in touch to arrange your own, personalised demo.