The world according to Facebook

It’s hard to remember what the world was like without Facebook – it was only in 2004 that it first began, but it is the platform that really defined “social media” for the world and led the way in changing how we share information, how we discuss current topics, and eliminating any distinction between “private” and “public”. The digital and online world continues to evolve rapidly, and there are constantly new platforms and channels being developed, new ways for people to communicate and share information, and from a marketing perspective things seem to be becoming more fragmented than ever. However Facebook remains particularly interesting and particularly important to watch for a number of reasons – but mainly because of the power of the data that it holds.

Graph Search

You might not have thought too much about Facebook’s “Graph Search” functionality when it was launched in 2013, but if Facebook can get it write it is going to unlock a search capability to rival Google – different, but equally powerful. Think about all of the data that Facebook holds on you, your friends, and all of billions of users around the world. Graph Search is designed to connect all of that data together in a useful and useable way – it’s described as “social search” because the searches are driven not by websites but by people, places, and things.

Graph Search in action

To really start to appreciate what graph search can give you, it’s easiest to run some basic search queries. For example, imagine that I was wanting to market a new line of gym shorts for men and I want to focus my marketing on gay guys in London. Using Graph Search you can find out a lot about what your target audience is probably interested in, where they go, what they do. Start with a general search to start to define your target audience. I searched for Males in London who like Kylie Minogue – there are over 1,000 in the search results. If I further define that search by adding the criteria that I’m looking for people that also like EasyGrym (a discount gym with several central London gyms), there are less than 100 people identified; the same results for Virgin Active. However if I change EasyGym to GymBox (a more upmarket gym operator in London) then the results go up to more than 100 people but less than 1,000. So quite quickly this could start to inform where I might choose to market – GymBox quickly emerges as a gym where I am more likely to connect with my target audience.

Informing your advertising

While your basic searches might help you to start refining your marketing activities, for Facebook the power of Graph Search is the marketing revenue that it will deliver. Sticking with our gym shorts example, if our analysis is telling us that GymBox is a good place to connect with our target audience, that doesn’t mean that we have to stand out the front of GymBox handing out flyers (although that isn’t a bad idea), what it means is that you can create a Facebook advertising that targets the criteria that you’ve tested so that it gives you extra confidence that your advertising is hitting exactly the people that you’re trying to reach.

This is really just scratching the surface. Graph Search is building momentum – the audience insights that it can give us will be a real game-changer for digital marketing. Definitely one to watch.


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