Facebook announced the new search function in January, which will initially index the social network by people, photos, places and interests. It allows users to make queries on the site such as “who are my friends who like Arctic Monkeys” or “Indian restaurants nearby”.
Marketing Week has spoken to a number of marketing and commercial executives at major brands whose knowledge on Graph Search ranges from “absolutely none” to confusion around how visible their Pages will be in search results – including brands who have strategic partnerships with Facebook to trial new products.
The company did not announce advertising opportunities – such as sponsored results or the ability to target users based on their searches – but it is understood these will be introduced once Graph Search has been live for a few months. At the moment it is in a slow rollout period, predominantly switching on users in the US.
Cordell Lawrence, global community manager at Jack Daniels, voiced his concern about the visibility of its official brand pages compared with the hundreds of other “imposter” unofficial pages when Graph Search becomes mainstream at this year’s Social Media World Forum London. He said Jack Daniels is “constantly bugging” Facebook to ensure those unofficial pages do not show up in search results.
Also speaking at the event was JustGiving’s social and labs product manager Jonathan Waddingham who said despite the company having early access to Graph Search, his team is struggling to work out how it will be relevant to the brand.
Senior executives at social media agencies told Marketing Week there is a “lack of information” coming from Facebook about how brands can best optimise for Graph Search’s launch.
Charles Allen, head of marketing at Arsenal Football Club, says: “In terms of whether Facebook has educated us or even told us about [protecting our IP] and other developments [around Graph Search] the answer is no.”
Dan Cohen, vice president of SEO and social media at Forward Internet Group, which ran its own Graph Search education event for clients last month says brands also may not be prepared for local search – particularly as Graph Search is powered by Bing, which only a small amount of brands currently devote search budget to compared with Google.
Facebook’s pan-European communications manager Iain Mackenzie says brands should not be concerned and it is likely the company will introduce brand education events when it adds advertising tools to Graph Search later down the line.
He added: “When it comes to the stage of evolution where there are significant changes and benefits for advertisers we will let them know. The only thing you have to prepare for now is make sure your page is in order, named correctly, location is correct and your picture are recognisable as your brand.”
Kristin Brewe, chair of the IAB’s social media council, says like Facebook’s other recent changes, Graph Search rewards Page Owners for user engagement – just the same as Google or Bing results – so she encourages brands to continue to experiment with things such as photo contests.
Paul Armstrong, owner of Digital Orange Consulting, says while the size, speed and focus of the Graph Search announcement may have “unnerved brands” but he advises marketers to speak to their Facebook reps as quickly as possible.
“This is not a test, it’s a big part of Facebook’s future,” he adds.