Facebook search is an underutilized resource, which already has plenty of potential as an incredibly valuable marketing tool – and that value is only going to grow. Here’s why.
As early as September 2012, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook was getting 1 billion search queries a day. What’s more, in its Q4 2014 earnings call, Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman said, “The age of [users] going to Google on [their] desktop and finding [their] way to Yelp – while it’s not over – we’ve sort of hit that peak.”
As a result, if brands want to continue growing their audiences via search, Facebook offers a big opportunity. That’s according to David Mihm, director of local search strategy for Moz, at Mozcon last week.
This is clearer when you look at mobile as 17 percent of time spent on mobile devices is in the Facebook mobile app, Mihm said.
“Facebook has become the home app for basically everyone on their mobile phones,” he said. “But I don’t know how many people are aware of the amazing search infrastructure.”
That’s in part because of what Mihm refers to as “Google blinders,” pointing to a huge disparity in news coverage dedicated to Google search versus Facebook search.
Facebook Search: A Brief History
The Facebook estimate about 1 billion daily search queries came before the network launched Graph Search in January 2013. That was most useful on returning people results, such as “people who like cycling and live in Seattle,” Mihm said.
Then, in December 2014, Graph Search became simply “Search,” and, Mihm said, “Posts got a much bigger boost.”
Next, in March 2015, Facebook acquired product search startup TheFind, which helps users find goods for sale online. The network has also announced partnerships with publishers that allow users to browse news content directly from the Facebook app, which Mihm said creates “a more complete Facebook search ecosystem where the behavior is happening within Facebook.”
In addition, Zuckerberg has said Facebook search is “a five-year thing,” so, Mihm said, “I think we’re going to see tremendous innovation and features and new opportunities from Facebook to us as marketers.”
So whereas Facebook search is about search now, the future will likely be about audience-building, Mihm said. That means knowing how to use the right parts of Facebook speech – including subjects, objects, modifiers, and verbs – as well as parameters, could be incredibly valuable.
Use Case 1: Content Marketing
When figuring out what kind of content to create, marketers can search for the interests of people who like their pages for inspiration.
“That’s a creative way to get content in front of your audience,” Mihm said.
In addition, brands can search for recent photos taken at a specific location and, after asking for permission, use those images in blogs, newsletters, and the like.
“Think about the content your users have already created,” Mihm said.
Use Case 2: Audience Intelligence
Marketers can also ask about pages liked by people who like their pages, which, Mihm said, can be useful to potentially figure out who to target for guest posts.
The same is true of finding potential local partnerships by searching for pages liked by residents of a particular geographic area who also like a given brand’s page.
For more on this, see our post: Getting To Know Your Audience Using Facebook Search.
Use Case 3: Influencer Research
Brands can also use Facebook to search for journalists and bloggers who live in a specific geographic area, as well as friends of friends who are journalists or bloggers and who live in a specific geographic area, Mihm said. Facebook also enables marketers to search for journalists and bloggers who work for specific outlets.
“That helps you figure out who to reach out to and who to build relationships with,” Mihm said. “As well as to see who’s writing and interested in your topic and lives in your area.”
What’s more, Mihm said marketers can search for specific titles as well to find the right executives to reach out to.
In addition, Mihm recommends searching for people who use Yelp and like your brand in order to find good candidates for reviews.
“You can ask them to check in and have a special so you make sure you treat them like a VIP and then Yelp will prompt them to leave a review,” Mihm said.
Use Case 4: Business Development
Facebook search can help brands figure out where to peddle their wares. For example, a brewery might search for bars in a given region liked by people who also like the brewery, Mihm said.
It can also help in terms of targeted offer outreach by searching for a particular demographic – like, say, singles – who like a given brand and live in a particular geographic area.
“Facebook search will be really big,” Mihm said.
What’s your take on the opportunity Facebook search offers for marketers?