How Graph Search Will Power Word of Mouth Recommendations

Last week Facebook announced the roll out of Graph Search to all Facebook users using the network in U.S. English. If you haven’t already heard, Graph Search is Facebook’s latest attempt to personalize the user experience.

Essentially it offers more sophisticated search results. Here are a few examples of some searches you’ll be able to run:

  • Friends who live in my city
  • Photos of my friends in New York
  • Friends who have eaten Italian food in Surry Hills
  • Friends who went to my school and are in the Advertising Industry
  • People who surf at Bondi
  • Friends who have shopped at H & M

Graph search works very differently to Google. Whereas Google is based on a mathematical algorithm that uses keywords, graph search works based on the content, recommendations and the comments of your friends within your social network.

Before I get you excited about what this means when it comes to brand advocacy – I do want to point out that graph search is still in BETA and the results are currently still pretty limited. Most of the searches I’ve run are based on basic profile information such as interests (i.e. anyone who has listed Italian Food’ as an interest in their profile will come up) or Facebook places check-ins. That’s not to say Facebook won’t refine the functionality and see timeline comments and conversations being used in the future.

Graph Search and Advocacy

Andrew Eckland from Ciceron published a very interesting article (Facebook’s Graph Search Should Convince You That Brand Advocacy is Important) that goes to prove the relevance of brand advocacy and graph search. Eckland said:

“This [graph search] is really important in theory for brand advocacy. If the premise is true that people trust their personal network more than media or Google algorithms, then Graph Search is another serious discussion about another hugely disruptive technology to brands. This is coming in fast and sideways.”

Eckland goes on to point out that “If a brand has no one talking about them on Facebook, then they don’t exist in Facebook Graph Search.”

This is an important point. Before long, Google SEO will be a distant memory as brands start to compete against each other’s Graph Search results. Take a moment and ponder these searches becoming a part of the path to purchase:

  • Friends who drink Moccona coffee in Sydney
  • Friends of friends who like Sony PlayStation
  • Italian Restaurants my friends have visited
  • Friends who have used Advantage to treat fleas on their dogs
  • Friends in Manly who like Nestle Crunch
  • Hotels that friends have stayed at in Italy

Not only can you tap into your friends, but also your friends of friends. And of course Facebook places provides a whole host of location-based recommendations including hotels, restaurants, bars, museums and any other places that people may have checked into.

I ran a quick search to see which hotels my friends have stayed at in Italy and was surprised at the results. I was presented with a list of hotels including who (from my social networks) had visited and what date they had visited. The exciting thing from a word of mouth perspective is that the hotels also featured a 5 star rating – so not only am I aware who has visited, but I’m also presented with a recommendation.

Considering consumer-to-consumer recommendations are responsible for 20 – 50% of purchases (you can read the full McKinseys Research report in my previous article), it’s only a matter of time before people will be reaching out to their Facebook networks via graph search for confirmation before they purchase a product.

The question is – will your brand have a presence?

One thing I do know is that a consumer advocate team is a sure fire way of cementing that presence while building your long-term brand advocacy at the same time.

More Tech News articles:

Zoe Boalch

About Zoe Boalch

Zoë Boalch is co-founder of Contagious Agency. Zoë likes: hot chili, yoga, learning new stuff, positive people, taking risks Zoë dislikes: naysayers, grumpy people, rather large egos
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