The Oldest Problem in the Book: Facebook or Instagram?

phone with social media icons, some crossed off

You know, we pride ourselves on being a reflective sort here at Strathcom Media. More than once, I’ve found myself sitting in my oak-bedecked corner office (most of us here have one), pondering a certain large, dark portrait that looms high on the wall and which ties the room together rather nicely. Glaring down at me is the grizzled oil-cast countenance of our own hallowed founder, Fauntleroy Pamplemouse the Sixth, Earl of Strathcom. I often think of how different the automotive advertising game must have been, back in 1886, when our noble firm was founded. Much has changed since; the marketing tools we work with are more persistent and more precise. What would Ol’ Faunty have thought about the marketing possibilities for platforms like Facebook and Instagram? What advice would he have dispensed to clients in the throes of deciding on which of Zuck’s social networks to focus their digital marketing spend? Alas, while we might not have Lord Strathcom himself here to give his insights on the topic, we have a close second. Myself. Continue reading “The Oldest Problem in the Book: Facebook or Instagram?”

With Facebook, it’s All about Organic Content Now

On January 11th, 2018 Facebook announced a major change to their News Feed algorithm that will cause some impact on brands’ ability to reach users on Facebook through organic distribution.

The change will focus on prioritizing content from friends, family and groups, rather than less public content like posts from businesses, brands and the media.  This means news feeds will likely start to show more pictures of your friend’s new puppy and fewer Buzzfeed articles.

As the changes roll out over the next several months, businesses will most likely see a decrease in their organic reach, but there’s opportunity here… Continue reading “With Facebook, it’s All about Organic Content Now”

Facebook’s Heart Will Go On – Facebook Newsfeed Changes

Facebook newsfeed changes

The Titanic didn’t change directions easily. It changed directions almost reluctantly, because A) it was an ordeal to maneuver such a large vessel, and B) the staff didn’t want to cause concern among the wealthy elites on board (and I don’t have to tell you how that worked out; James Cameron’s 1997 blockbuster probably handled that already). This example is an apt metaphor about how surging ahead blindly in a straight line, without planning far ahead for directional changes, can be the downfall of a large organization. In a recent statement from its founder, Facebook essentially said they’re changing directions, and they aim to avoid such a fate. Here’s what you can expect from recent Facebook newsfeed changes… Continue reading “Facebook’s Heart Will Go On – Facebook Newsfeed Changes”

What’s the Story with Instagram?

We have had a few dealers ask us about Instagram lately, so we took the liberty of asking Facebook what’s up with its sister platform. Here are the new stats they sent us:

  • Instagram currently has about 250 million daily users
  • People under the age of 25 spend an average of 32 minutes a day on Instagram
  • People over the age of 25 are spending an average of 24 minutes a day on Instagram
  • In the last year alone there have been more than 20 new features added to Instagram Stories – including stickers and Boomerang
  • Last month, over 50% of businesses produced an Instagram story.

Instagrammers iPhone 5 displaying log in screen of Instagram application.

Case Study

There is also a case study on the Instagram business page called Accelerating to Success: The Auto Industry on Instagram that includes a ton of data about why dealers should be utilizing this powerful platform. Here are some of the highlights: Continue reading “What’s the Story with Instagram?”

Facebook for Auto Dealers: Meh, Myth or Legend?

We’re all familiar with Facebook and that 18 million of us Canadians visit the site daily, but what’s in it for the dealership? As a dealership, can you utilize Facebook and all of its data for more than likes and shares?

Some dealers have remained skeptical and think successful advertising on Facebook is a myth. However, after reading the data in Facebook’s latest study, that myth is busted. Continue reading “Facebook for Auto Dealers: Meh, Myth or Legend?”

Every Generation is the Facebook Generation

phone screen with social media applications of Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Periscope while a male finger is about to touch on Facebook app.

Facebook. What started out in a college dorm room has since grown into one of the largest advertising platforms available. Yet, there are many companies that still do not realize the potential Facebook has to offer their business.

One common objection we hear about Facebook advertising is “I’m not on Facebook, and my customers aren’t on Facebook”, or “people my age and older aren’t on Facebook”. Although this sounds like a reasonable objection, the data simply does not back it up.

There are 22 million Canadians on Facebook, and 17 million of them are on Facebook every day. The population of Canada is about 35 million people, meaning that about 63% of Canadians are on Facebook, and almost 50% are on Facebook every day. When one considers that 1 in 2 Canadians are on Facebook, suddenly the “people my age aren’t on Facebook” argument seems unlikely.

Also, a recent study by Sprout Social looked at which social platforms each generation – Millennials (ages 18-34), Gen Xers (ages 34-54) and Baby Boomers (ages 55+) – engage with the most. They surveyed 1,000 people from each demographic and the results showed that, actually, every generation is the Facebook generation.

43.6% of those surveyed chose Facebook as their social network of choice. 64.7% of Gen Xers chose it and 65.2% of Baby Boomers chose it. That’s right, out of all three generations, the highest percentage came from those aged 55+. 65.2% of Baby Boomers chose Facebook as their social media platform of choice

Another interesting discovery in this study is which generations are most likely to follow a brand on social media. They found that 48.6% of Millennials currently follow brands, and 48.8% of Gen Xers currently follow brands.  That means almost half of people aged 35-54 have opted-in to following brands on social media. Is your brand available to them?

But what about Generation Z? Even though Sprout did not survey anyone from this generation, there are a plethora of articles out there trying to figure this generation out. Many suggest that SnapChat is going to be that generation’s Facebook, but according to an article by Contently:

“67 percent of older Gen Zers regularly use Facebook, while 50 percent name the Facebook-owned Instagram—only one percentage point behind Snapchat. Facebook was also named by 26 percent of respondents as the social network they use ‘constantly,’ compared with 23 percent for Snapchat. Nearly half of respondents said they log onto Facebook multiple times a day”.

One of the most basic lessons in advertising is to be where your customers are and where your competition isn’t. It’s been proven that your customers are, in fact, on Facebook; but right now, a lot of your competition is not advertising there. Give us a call today to get started and get $500 in bonus spend to put towards your next lead-generating campaign.

We #LoveTwitter

Today is Twitter’s 10th Birthday!

tumblr_m4dogtEtyt1rp6w2ko1_500To celebrate 10 years of bringing people together, we thought it would only make sense to share the top 10 most re-tweeted tweets of all time. This list consists of everything you would expect: politics, selfies, and of course, One Direction. We appreciate the Thank-You email, and we appreciate Twitter keeping us all connected for all these years!

 

Driving Engagement on Facebook

Facebook strathcom media automotive advertising

If you scroll down the news feed on Facebook you’ll probably encounter a video. And not just any video–it’s probably one that will make you at least consider watching. That’s all it takes to be successful on Facebook. Attention, in the world and age of mass information, is the currency potential customers will offer you. One of the best ways to get that currency is through engagement.

But how do you get engagement and what is that engagement worth to you? After all, at the end of the day, everyone should benefit. Here’s 3 ways to benefit:

  1. Videos (entertainment, viewability)
  2. Consistent, barrier-free value
  3. Sticky pages

Videos

Videos are the easiest way to deliver a message. Gaining access to information at the push of a button makes it a lot easier for the user to digest information. It’s also a good method to stand out from the competition. If the competition isn’t entertaining the same users you’re targeting, than you have an advantage.

Consistent, Barrier-Free Value

The more value you can provide, the better. However, the best value comes when the interested user doesn’t have to jump through many hoops to get it. In a Facebook post, try to give all the information you have. For instance, if there are multiple vehicles you’re promoting, provide all the information– don’t make the user search for it. Besides, the ‘read more’ option lets users sincerely interested in that information find what they want.

Sticky Pages

This is the result of a having a strong presence on Facebook. On your page, as you accumulate more and more content, you increase the time spent on your page. In addition, you’ll also very likely increase the chance someone views content on your page again. For a car dealership, it’s imperative that you interact with everyone at every level in the car-buying process. Even after they’ve purchased a vehicle, they now look to you for other services.

Bonus – Creating Organic Posts

 

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Always provide value in your posts. Whether your posts are to be entertaining or informational, make sure the user knows what they can get out of it!

And if you need help with your Facebook advertising, let us know!

#FAIL: 5 Things You are Doing Wrong on Instagram

We hope we have you convinced by now that your dealership should be on Instagram and that it’s important to your brand development. The insane growth of the app presents a great opportunity to define your brand and increase your presence on the mobile network. With over 400 million users worldwide, Instagram has now surpassed Twitter as the largest mobile photo-sharing app in the world.

Considering the amount of active Instagram users, it should be easy to collect a significant following in your area with some simple hashtags and nice pictures–but your dealership account can’t seem to break 10 Likes or increase followers. Instagram is so much more than a Valencia filter and #yeg. Let us help you get past the 5 mistakes you might be making and that you don’t want to throwback to.

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  1. Not Having an Optimized Profile

When a customer searches for your brand, there is nothing worse than for them to land on a private account. This makes your brand appear closed and selective, and customers do not want to be granted permission to view what you have to offer. Public accounts allow you to be easily accessible and approachable, and give them a visual glimpse of your brand.

It’s also important to fill in the Bio section of your profile. Use keywords to help customers find you, and include your website to encourage visits and leads.

  1. Misusing Hashtags

Maybe you aren’t using enough hashtags for interested customers to find you, and this means fewer interactions with your posts. More hashtags equals more Likes and comments, and Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per image. Start by testing 5 different hashtags per post until you’ve collected a significant amount of tags to use in every post and guarantee results.

  1. Only Posting & Not Engaging

Like on Facebook, users on Instagram want a glimpse into your brand, and to interact with whatever posts interest them. By replying to comments on your posts, you are demonstrating you’re a dealership that’s excited and committed to customer interaction and service.

  1. Too Promotional

Instagram is a great platform to promote any deals and specials running at your dealership. However, your profile should not be cluttered with promotional images that overshadow any of the personal content you post. Limit promotional posts to once a week, or get in touch with our team to start Instagram Advertising.

  1. Not Having a Plan

Like with other marketing tools you use at your dealership, always have a plan for what outcomes and goals you want to achieve through Instagram. Is it to promote a lifestyle or community engagement? Avoid random posting, but also make sure you have a consistent schedule for when and what content you plan to post to your account.

 

A picture is worth a thousand words, and we can ensure these words are being heard. Instagram is not your grandparents’ social network, and you can turn hashtags into dollars for your dealership. Contact Strathcom Media today to find out what we can do to improve your Instagram presence!

Getting Started: 5 Tips for Using Instagram At Your Dealership

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A few months back, Instagram hit 400 million users, making this mobile photo-sharing app officially larger than its rival Twitter. The growth in user-base isn’t slowing either, as it only took nine months for Instagram to achieve its last 100 million users.

If you are already leveraging social media platforms, you are more than likely using Facebook and maybe even Twitter. But you have ever thought to use Instagram to engage with your customers and develop brand awareness? Today, companies are increasingly turning to Instagram to engage consumers and boost their image.

SHOULD MY DEALERSHIP BE USING INSTAGRAM?

We have all heard the expression: A picture is worth a thousand words. The use of images is a great way to tell stories, and stories are much more effective in engaging people to generate an emotional response. Instagram is a great opportunity to differentiate yourself in the marketplace by expressing experiences that define your brand.

In this video below, you can see how the Instagram’s advertising tool (carousel ads) gives brands the ability to create a story using photos.

Needs some ideas on how to use Instagram to promote your brand? Here are some of the ways other brands are leveraging Instagram as an essential part of their marketing strategy

  • Show off your Inventory

Use Instagram to show a collection of your products. See how Chevrolet highlights their line up: https://www.instagram.com/chevrolet/

  • Demonstrate what your products can do

Use Instagram to increase demand by showing customers some highlights features of each model. Initiating an Instagram contest can work wonders in engaging your customers. For example, users can share photos of them in their car or using cool features.

If you would like to highlight your service department, show the impact of your work before and after.

  • Introduce your employees

Consumers are often daunted by the car buying experience. Performing a campaign highlighting the staff of your different departments within your dealership will help put a face to your brand and put consumers more at ease when they come for a visit.

  • Create anticipation

Share “teaser” photos to satisfy the consumer’s curiosity and to create anticipation for your new model launches. Remember to use popular and trending hashtags. This will make it easier for users to find your Instagram campaigns.

  • Highlight satisfied customers

Highlight a customer’s post-purchase satisfaction. Customers have a story to tell so give them a chance to tell their story in pictures and showcase what’s great about your car dealership. These images will play a huge role in reassuring customers of their decision making throughout the buying process.

Conclusion

Does managing an Instagram campaign still seem like a daunting task? Are you still unsure of where to start your campaign? Let Strathcom Media help you leverage this major social media outlet so you can better connect with your customers. Contact us today to find out more about our popular Instagram package.

Think like a Casino Owner to Get Your Facebook Posts Seen

We are seeing again and again that auto dealers who take social media seriously see their bottom lines grow.

That’s nice. But what does such social media mastery look like in practice?

Here’s the latest such story I’ve come across:

A dealer shared a promotion on their Facebook page in which they were giving away a free 42″ LCD TV with the purchase of any used vehicle over $10,000. The first comment to that post was a guy asking if they had any used trucks for between $10,000 and $12,000. The dealer’s social media staffer responded right away, sharing listings of some of the trucks that fit that range.

(That alone made a positive impression on me, and I wasn’t even their customer!)

So the man replied back said he would come in the next day to test drive a Chevy Silverado the dealer had in stock, and by the end of the day the customer was leaving with the truck, his new TV, and the dealership had locked in a sale that might have otherwise never materialized into signed contracts. (Not to mention making the social media manager look like a techno-stud to their boss.)

This is one of those marketing stories that gives you the warm and fuzzies, and that social media managers cannot tire to quote. But what good does it do for your dealership if your posts are never seen by your customers in the first place.

The solution?

Play the Odds

Casinos don’t care if you have a big night at the blackjack table every now and then. They know that the odds are in their favour. So if they have a big enough crowd of gamblers, and those gamblers play enough hands, then the casino will make money.

The same long-term thinking is needed when you use Facebook for marketing. Give yourself the best possible odds, and keep at it long enough so that eventually the numbers will be in your favour, and you’ll start generating leads over months of impressions and interactions.

Sure, not every one of your Facebook posts is going to be a lead machine. And not every person who walks into your dealership will buy something. (If otherwise, please correct us in the comments section below.)

Savvy Facebook marketing relies on playing the odds.

And What Are the Updated Odds?

Data company trackmaven.com has analyzed 1.5 million Facebook posts from 6,000 brand pages to determine which factors contribute to higher visibility on Facebook.

Here are some of their key findings, ensuring you the most eyeballs on your posts when properly leveraged:

  • Always Use Images – People are 37% more likely to engage with your posts when your posts include pictures, compared to text-only ads.
  • After Hours – Posts put up after the standard 9-5 business hours receive 11% more interaction. Time your next post just before that expected bump in traffic.
  • Sunday – Fewer people are posting on the weekends, but Sunday posts are interaction gold; posts on Sundays get 25% more likes, shares, and comments than midweek or early weekend posts.
  • What was that? – Posts that ask a question get 23% more engagement on average. Can you guess why?
  • TGIT – The most popular day to post is Thursday, and the most popular time is 12:00 P.M; so either this is prime time for traffic, or your post will get burried under friends’ cat photos and engagement announcements. Test it for yourself.

Check out Trackmaven’s infographic below for more stats on what can take your Facebook posts to the top.

Connect with Strathcom on Facebook

Want to see some of these tips in action? Then connect with Strathcom Media on Facebook. We’re also just a few clicks of your keyboard away from answering all of your social media marketing questions.

 

How 5 Minutes Can Save Your Reputation Online – Twitter Photo Tagging

It’s finally happening. Twitter is changing its photo settings, making it possible for you to tag and be tagged in photos. Great news, right? Well, not unless you have a savvy social media expert on your team who is available every single minute of the week to un-tag you from unflattering photos before they repel all of your followers.twitter bird

A picture is worth your monthly marketing budget—get it right!

As you’ve probably already learned from Facebook, people share photos that are flattering for them, even if they don’t showcase you in your best light. You want your Twitter followers to remember you for the bumblebee-striped Corvette in your showroom and the glowing grins of your staff and customers. Not for a slouching sales manager caught mid-sneeze, standing next to a dingy mop and bucket in an out-of-focus cell phone pic. And you certainly don’t want an unhappy customer slandering you in your newsfeed with an intentionally humiliating shot of your dealership, tagged for all of your followers to see. Why bother hiring photographers and designers to cast your dealership in its most glamourous light, when a few unflattering tweets can torpedo your image in a few seconds? You can’t entirely eliminate the damage caused by an unflattering photo, but you can drastically reduce its spread by taking a few simple precautions.

It’s better to be in control of what shows up in your newsfeed

Five minutes is all it takes to protect you and your dealership from a few easily avoidable disasters. We recommend that you change your photo settings on your Twitter account and disable the tagging function now.

  1. Locate the Settings tab (The gear icon in the top right hand side of your Twitter screen)
  2. Click on Security and Privacy (In the navigation on the left hand side)
  3. Select, “Do not allow anyone to tag me in photos.” (Under the Privacy Section)

twitter tag block

Twitter 101: Why do I need to be on Twitter Anyway?

Many dealers have seen how Facebook can help them sell more cars and get better and closer access to their customers. But what about Twitter? Can the 140-character sharing site and land of the hashtag drive customers to their dealerships in the same numbers?

Well, Twitter has fast become a major marketing tool, and this post will help you wrap your head around a few reasons why you don’t want to miss out.

1. Be Seen by Millions

Effectively communicating on Twitter means your business or product could be seen by millions of users—230 million to be exact. An interactive presence creates stronger brand ties than simply seeing an ad in the newspaper or a commercial.

Many businesses still underestimate the effect Twitter has on its users.The fact is that 71% of users purchase products from brands they follow on Twitter.

76% of users are connecting with mobile devices. – Twitter Business

Iphone

 

A customer may follow an account after seeing an informative and interesting tweet and this ‘follow’ connects them

to your dealership. Someday this customer may need a vehicle, and your dealership will be the first to come to mind.

2. Scale your Customer Service

A major upside of having a Twitter account for your dealership is it scales your customer service team so more than just one person can answer reviews and inquiries.

This gives your business the ability to spread customer service responsibilities across yo

ur team and gets more employees actively engaged. Twitter is essentially a platform for users to share their thoughts, and customers will appreciate instant responses from a dealer if they did not have a favourable experience.

Remember, users are far more vocal on social media than they are on regular review boar

ds. By quickly replying to their tweets, you can help your business establish itself as a community-centric dealership.

3. Showcase Your Dealership

Another great aspect of Twitter is its ability to showcase the sights of your business.

Rather than rely on unreliable foot traffic to showcase the brand new Corvette you have sitting in your showroom, Twitter gives you the ability to tweet a picture of its bold yellow curves and entice Twitter followers to come in and check it out right away.

But why stop there? Do you have handsome staff? Does your dealership look great lit up at night? Are customers having a fantastic time playing one of your colourful promotion games or driving off in new wheels? Snap a pic and tweet it for others to share!

Twitter gives a dealership the ability to share their passion for vehicles, which—in turn—creates a more human connection to the brand.

Twitter for dealers
Source: approvedautoleads.com

4. Market to Mobile

As mentioned earlier, 76% of users access Twitter on a mobile device.

That means they are browsing on-the-go. If you can catch a user’s eye and entice them

to stop by on their way home from work, this may turn into a possible sale.

86% of Twitter followers are more likely to make a future purchase from your business.

It is important to develop your voice on Twitter. Always remember to match your voice with your audience. Users will likely follow your account to learn about new products, but also to learn about the type of people they will be dealing with if they come into your dealership.

To find out more on how Twitter is fast-becoming an essential tool for auto dealers check out some of our other posts!

Facebook 101: Why Do I Need to Be on Facebook Anyway?

We get asked all of the time, “Why do I need to be on Facebook anyway?” often followed by “Nobody cares what I had for dinner!” True, what you had for dinner probably falls out of the realm of things your mother even cares about. However, for car dealerships, Facebook does have a number of benefits—and it just so happens to be where your customers are.

Facebook

Reasons your dealership should be on Facebook:

  1. Google likes it — especially since the new Hummingbird Update,Google has been including the content from your public page in their rankings and, more importantly, its looking for how interactive your fans are (how often they are sharing, commenting and liking your content).
  2. The conversation happens whether you are there or not — everyone has questions, and Social Media is the new “word of mouth” referral.  Potential customers ask each other for opinions and recommendations, and if the question is about where to get their next oil change or what kind of SUV will be optimal to tote little Johnny and his four messy friends around in, you have a unique opportunity to become a part of that conversation or at least monitor what people are saying about your dealership.
  3. Social media is everywhere and it’s necessary — if you’re going to dive in, why not start with Facebook?  It’s hyper-visual so it lends itself well to car sales. It’s been around since 2004 and has billions of users worldwide, making it the largest platform (meaning more access to different demographics). Most importantly for your brand, Facebook has the highest levels of user engagement.

Who should manage my Facebook?

Find someone within your company that naturally likes talking to people and who has an affinity for customer service. They can learn the platform relatively easily, but it’s more important that they just like engaging with people.

How to get started:

  1. Do a quick search to see if there is already a Facebook Places page related to your business that people are checking in at or liking. If there is one, you can claim it from the Edit Page drop down menu at the top.
  2. To create a new page, please visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php and make sure you choose “Local Business or Place.” Dealerships who make the mistake of setting themselves up like a “person” (as you would with a Personal profile), after reaching about 1000 friends, Facebook will notice and reserves the right to cancel your account.

Stay tuned for our next social media blog post on how to properly set up your Facebook page and get started with Facebook posts.

Need help getting started?  Ask Strathcom Media today!

We leave you with this Public Service Announcement:

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What Are Hashtags and How Do I Use Them?

What is a Hashtag? You’ve probably heard about hashtags, and you may or may not know what they are, or how they work. What is Hashtagging? Basically it involves tagging a word, series of words, video or picture by using a hash mark (#). For example, #BMW or #Ford. The #sign makes a searchable tag and allows users to search for a particular subject.

Hashtags2

Who Uses Them?

GooglePlusHashtags

According to a survey from RadiumOne, “Unlike other forms of social sharing, hashtags implicitly reflect customer sentiment and are one of the most powerful ways consumers have to vocalize their tastes and preferences at scale in a real-time fashion,” said Kamal Kaur, vice president, mobile at RadiumOne. “We conducted this survey to help advertisers better manage their brands by responding to the needs and wants of their client base through winning hashtag campaigns.” Key findings from the survey, which polled the opinions of 494 participants, include:

  • 58 percent of respondents utilize hashtags on a regular basis, and 71 percent of regular hashtag users do so from their mobile devices.
  • 43 percent of respondents think hashtags are useful and 34% use them to search/follow categories and brands of personal interest.
  • 51 percent of respondents would share hashtags more often if they knew advertisers awarded discounts for sharing product-based hashtags.
  • 41 percent of respondents use hashtags to communicate personal ideas and feelings.

Google has just announced they will now allow you to search for Google+ posts by using hashtags. This means users will now be able to search for hashtags like #Dodge and get a list of relevant Google+ posts in the right-hand sidebar.

How Are Hashtags Different from a Regular Search?

You can be found by an entirely new audience. Hashtags let users search through everything that is public. As a result, people who don’t even know your store or your page could find you if you are using the correct hashtags. Use your dealership name and your primary keywords as hashtags. Example: #GothamMotors #Cadillac #Buick #CarRepair. Use them on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Vine, Instagram, etc.

Hashtag Etiquette


Hashtags can be ridiculously annoying; just ask Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake. So make sure you do it right:

  1. Don’t use too many words — ain’t nobody got time for that! #Checkoutthelatesttoyotacamryinyeg is not something people are looking for. If you have to use a couple of words, make sure you capitalize each word, like #FuelEconomy and #FordFusion
  2. Don’t tag every word. #We #are #having #a #private #sale is ANNOYING.
  3. Don’t tag something just because it’s trendy, especially if it’s unrelated. “I bet #Miley would love this Chevrolet Cruze! #wreckingball” — NO.
  4. Try to put them at the end of your post. It looks better and is not annoying to the reader.
    We’re having a customer appreciation BBQ. Come on by! #GothamMotors #BBQ #GothamEvents

HashtagsFollowers

Strathcom Tip: If you want to see where a lot of your branded car terms are being hashtagged, check out tagboard.com this awesome site searches all the social sites to show you a list of hashtag results!

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Facebook Graph Search: What it means for your local business

Facebook announces Graph Search during its January 15th, 2013 press conference

Nobody appears to fear this change more than Google itself. They suddenly face a competitor able to index loads of data that they cannot access. Don’t worry Google: Facebook isn’t launching a traditional search engine like Google or Bing. They are launching a social search engine.

It’s a social search engine most likely to succeed if compared to Google+, considering its billions of users who are already members of the site as well as the vast amounts of data that users enter into the site every day.

Most of us see Facebook as one giant scrapbook, but in reality it’s a huge database full of useful information.  Facebook users are familiar with browsing one page of information at a time. With the Open Graph search tool, Facebook users can now search this database for a unique, personable experience.

Facebook Graph Search

How did the Graph Search get started?

Lars Eilstrup Rasmussen who previously worked for Google (and designed Google Maps) joined Facebook’s existing search team. There was a problem to solve: while Facebook was already a repository for loads of information, it was difficult for users to sort through it all. Users had questions like “Who are my friends in Vancouver BC?” and “What TV shows are my friends watching?” but Facebook had no way for users to easily access this data.

Facebook Graph Search now provides answers to such questions:

“People use search engines to answer questions,” Zuckerberg says. “But we can answer a set of questions that no one else can really answer. All those other services are indexing primarily public information, and stuff in Facebook isn’t out there in the world — it’s stuff that people share. There’s no real way to cut through the contents of what people are sharing, to fulfill big human needs about discovery, to find people you wouldn’t otherwise be connected with. And we thought we should do something about that. We’re the only service in the world that can do that.”

This new announcement is exciting for any businesses who

  • Has a Social Media focus
  • Is a B2C
  • Is a local business
  • Relies on  word-of-mouth marketing
  • Wants to show up in search results for un-branded search queries.

How is Facebook Graph Search different from Google search?

When we use Google, we are searching through web pages. The pages that appear at the top of search results are largely based on the number of incoming links a website gets from other sources – each of which acts like a vote for that webpage/site. The number of quality links (links from authoritative websites) a page has helps Google decide where to place it on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).

With Facebook Graph search, we aren’t searching for webpages but rather for representations of real-life places, people and products. The way Facebook decides on top results is based on how many “likes” that product, place, or person has. Other connections determine which search results will be relevant for an individual user, instead of using links as a measure of authority as with Google’s case.

Facebook also has layers of search and can show demographics for who “likes” certain products or services. For example, you can see if your friends “like” pubs located in Edmonton, AB, other Facebook users who like pubs in Edmonton who actually live in that city, and even see a sub-list of which pubs your married friends, gay friends, or single friends “like.” This could help you choose a pub to suit your needs.

Facebook’s Graph Search and a traditional web search are very different. Web search algorithms take a set of keywords (for example: “used Toyota Corolla”) and then show top search results that include those keywords. With Facebook Graph Search you can combine phrases (for example: “my friends in Edmonton who like Toyota”) and search results will include photos or other content that has been shared and liked on Facebook surrounding the specific question.

For now, Facebook only includes people, photos, places and interest posts in their results. You can’t just search anything as you would with Google.

 

Future uses could range widely from finding job openings near you, to sorting your friends by city, to finding which of your friends have kids under the age of 3 so you know who to invite to your child’s first birthday party. You can get answers to questions quickly, and don’t have to resort to asking questions in your status.  How often have you seen your friends on Facebook posting statuses to ask their friends questions?

You can also sort your behaviours on Facebook: typing in “View photos I’ve liked” will divulge a collage of images you have liked from various parties, pets, travels and more. It’s a feel-good experience.

How do I make sure my business gets found in Facebook search?

It’s not all about who you know, but rather who knows you. If you have the right audience when people search for information from their friends about your industry, Graph Search will connect them.

Your “Fans” are your marketing force. With Graph Search, people who “like” your Facebook page and then share your posts and tips will be marketing on your behalf. Facebook has always said to focus on attracting the right fans to your page so you can engage directly with them. Their algorithm will pick business pages with the most “likes”  in conjunction with higher user interaction over those with less.

Facebook will need to encourage users to start sharing and liking more if they want this search feature to take off properly. I have never “liked” a book I’ve enjoyed, or even a restaurant where I find the food delicious unless there is an incentive for me to do so. Is the Facebook page offering me discounts and coupons, information, tips and user interactions? No? Then I would be less likely to “like” the page.

My advice is to continue marketing your Facebook page to the right audience with store contests, incentives and helpful information. If you aren’t focusing on this now, you should make it happen immediately. Appoint this task to a staff member knowledgeable in social media or hire someone who knows the industry to work closely with your Marketing and SEO departments.

Other tips directly from Facebook include:

  • The name, category, vanity URL and information you share in your “About” section all help people find your business and should be shared on Facebook.
  • If you have a location or a local Places Page, update your address to make sure your listing appears when someone searches for a specific location.
  • Focus on attracting the right fans to your Page and on giving them a reason to interact with your page on an ongoing basis.

Will Facebook Graph Search surpass what Google+ attempted to achieve?

The Facebook Open Graph search engine will never entirely replace Google Search. Yes, it does create a more personable search experience and will be useful for some search types such as local service searches. But will people start to take two steps when researching online? Will searchers start to use the Graph Search in addition to Google Search to see what their friends “like,” or will that be too many steps to find a local plumber or car dealership?

Will Facebook users change their search habits entirely and only use the Facebook Search Graph for local searches? Or perhaps Facebook users will use the Graph Search solely as a Social Search engine to help sort through their Facebook data. It also depends on whether Facebook users will begin to share and” like” business, product or people pages more often.

Google+ already has this service in place: you can already “plus” any webpage directly in Google SERPs. So far I haven’t found this service to be useful to me, as my Google+ friends aren’t recommending content regularly. I’m eager to see if people start to correlate their search results based on how much their friends share on Facebook.

Will users begin to share and engage in more “likes” to help their friends find the information they are looking for? What demographics will start using these features more? Many questions come up when I think of the future and I’m enthusiastic to see how this will affect Social Media Marketing and the SEO industries.

 

Samantha Goettel

SEO Team Leader

@SamGSama