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Social Media Marketing for Business

Brooks Tiffany


May 16, 2014

5 Ways to Leverage Graph Search for Your Brand

Facebook Graph Search is a powerful, yet overlooked, marketing tool. Read on to find out how to leverage this little bar at the top of your screen.


The slow and limited roll out of Graph Search, Facebook’s much improved search engine, has caused it to seemingly fly under the radar; and those who do have it on their radar seem to think it’s dead.

In an interview last month with the New York Times, Zuckerberg responded to a question that implied Graph Search had failed:

With Graph Search, I think that modern search products have so much built into them that we knew it was going to be a five-year investment before we got anything really good and different. So far we’ve done these milestones. The first one was that we were able to search over structured connections on Facebook. That was important as a consumer product and also as infrastructure that we are using inside the company. The next focus is searching posts. All of this has been on desktop, and the real push is mobile. So I’m not that worried about it. I think the real question will be how effective it will be on mobile once post-search works. I think that’s a five-year thing. We have to think about it over a longer period of time.

When viewed in this light, Graph Search is simply undergoing a slow maturation process to better its chances of success, which are largely vested in the mobile front. So, It’s understandable that you, and many others, may have pushed Graph Search to the back of your minds.

Maybe this will bring it back to the front of your minds: Zuckerberg has referred to Graph Search as the “third pillar” of Facebook along with the News Feed and Time Line; that’s some serious company. It’s also why you should be paying attention to Graph Search.

What Makes Graph Search Different?

In case you didn’t know, what makes Graph Search different is that it’s designed to search with the user’s natural language rather than just a list of links based strictly on matching key words.

Graph Search combs the massive amount of information accumulated by Facebook  (its social graph) and tailors results unique to you based on your social networks and then some.

So, as an example, instead of just searching for “restaurants in Blacksburg, Virginia,” you might search for “restaurants liked by my friends who live in Blacksburg, Virginia.”

The highly personalized results that you get from these searches are what make Graph Search unique; they’re also why you should be using Graph Search to market your brand.

How To Use Graph Search

Since Graph Search works a little differently than your average search engine and you may not have been using it to it’s fullest extent, I think it’s worth going over the basics.

To start using Graph Search, you’ll click on the bar at the top of your screen and begin typing your search (such as “favorite Interests of people who like Heyo.“)

As you type this a list of suggestions will populate below the search bar. You can either choose one of these suggestions or just finish typing your query and press enter.

When finished you’ll be presented with a list of results. You can further refine your search with the little tool bar on the right by choosing things like age, gender, date, and location. The refinement options vary depending on the type of search you performed.

Facebook Graph Search Heyo

Pretty cool, huh? Now it’s time to delve a little deeper into those results.

How to Leverage Graph Search for your Brand

With such specific results at your finger tips, it only makes sense to put this vast sea of information to work for your brand. Check out the following ways to make sure you are taking full advantage of Graph Search.

1. Research Your Audience

With Graph search you can find out all the interests of your fans, and potential fans. You can search for the  pages they like, the places they go and you can refine those searches down to very specific demographics.

Here are just a few examples of searches you might want to do:

Pages liked by people who like (brand/interest)

You can narrow this search down even more by adding another brand or interest – so, “pages liked by people who like Heyo and Mashable” for instance. This kind of triangulation is priceless in finding your target audience.

Favorite interests of people who like (brand/interest)

This is a great way to find out what most appeals to your target audience. Granted, there’s going to be a lot of Photography and Traveling out there but the list goes on and on, and remember that you can refine it.

Fans of (brand/interest) who live in (location) who are (over/under) 25

This is great for figuring out the local population’s brand affinity and also what interests they are into. If you’re trying to set up shop in a specific area, it pays to know what the locals are into. The age is a nice touch depending on what crowd you are going for.

Pages liked by marketers who (like brand/interest)

Using occupations to hone in on more meaningful likes. If professionals are flocking around certain brands, it’s a good way to not only find the right connections, but also a good way to get at the high-quality content.

These are just a few of the examples of the types of searches you can do but you get the idea. Now, what to do with this treasure trove of data?

2. Engage Your Fans by Striking the Right Chord

You’ll want to use this information to create high-quality engaging content for your fans. Nothing beats knowing that your target audience love a specific sports team, movie, or hobby. Take that into account when making posts, asking questions, and running contests.

Taking a granular approach to your fans’ interests may strike a chord with them which is a sure fire way to increase brand affinity.

3. Keep Your Friends Close and Your Competition Closer

With Graph Search you can find out exactly what other pages your fans like and get a good idea of who is in your competitive space. With this in mind you can know which brands are the biggest threat and which ones are the least. Use this information to gain the upper hand on rival brands by keeping an eye on what they are doing and making sure you are doing it better.

Now, I don’t want to be all cloak and dagger. You can also see what brands are overlapping with yours and use this information to form fruitful alliances. You can join forces, mention each others brands, run campaigns together, and ultimately share your fans; this is brand synergy waiting to happen!

4. Surgically Target Your Ads

With the ability to refine your searches so specifically, you can use this information to get more bang for your buck out of Facebook ads. When you go to pick your target audience, you’ll already have high-def picture of the fans’ interests you want to appeal to.

This can really be a game changer in making sure that the likes you are paying to capture are of the highest quality. Get this down and you’ll be taking most of the “error” out of “trial and error” when it comes to hitting your target audience.

5. Optimize Your Brand to Show Up in Graph Search Results

Be sure to have all of your “about” fields filled out. This means you should have everything from your mission to your address to your hours filled out.

Facebook looks to these for cues about your brand. The more information you have completed in your brand profile the more likely Facebook will pull your brand into specific search results.

Facebook Graph Search Heyo About

As always, you’ll also want to drive as much engagement as possible. Do this with features like “check ins” and getting people to comment and mention your brand. It’s not just the pages with the most likes, but those with the most quality engagement that will surface to the top of a Graph Search.

Now Go Graph Searching!

I don’t know about you but the first time I tried this out, I spent awhile thinking of creative searches and found myself exploring and liking all sorts of new content. Graph search put into one place and made easy what would have taken me hours of searching to do on my own.

So go and give it a try and I think you will quickly see the marketing power that graph search can give you.

If you want to get the most out of Graph Search and drive more engagement, email captures, and sales, click here to sign up, and we’ll show you how to launch a mobile campaign that converts at 10% or higher.

Tell us what you think and we may quote you in a future article:

Have you been using Graph Search effectively? What kind of searches do you think are the most beneficial? Leave your thoughts and questions in the comments below.


Brooks Tiffany


Brooks Tiffany is the Customer Engagement Leader and Technical Writer at Heyo in Blacksburg, VA. He's an Air Force veteran with a B.A. in English from Virginia Tech. He'll start pursuing an M.S. in Human Centered Design and Enginnering at the University of Washington this Fall.