Nine Features B2B Marketers Still Need from Facebook’s Graph Search

 In B2B Engagement Marketing, Uncategorized

Menlo Park, California: January 15th, 2012. Facebook HQ.

The crowd mills excitedly, yelled at by motivational posters on the wall (WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU WEREN’T AFRAID?). Anticipation builds.

10:05 PST: Zuckerberg speaks, revealing Facebook’s latest project: Graph Search.

Eighteen hours later, every social media, technology, marketing and news site worth its salt has written about the Facebook event, compounding speculations on what it means for their audiences. Some reviewers are disappointed, some are excited, and some are proud to say they saw this coming.

According to the Facebook newsroom, the new search function will allow users to understand and use their social network like never before.

For starters, if I’m planning a trip to San Francisco, with Graph Search I’ll be able to look up which of my friends live there, what restaurants they’ve liked, and pictures of them on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Facebook’s magic sauce is that search results differ according to the social graph of each user, so instead of finding out which sites the Internet deems most relevant based on keywords, Facebook returns results based on relationships. Facebook is betting that social and relevant mean the same thing, and every review, dating, and networking site should be nervous and/or excited for the bare knuckled competition.

This is all well and good, but my B2B marketing mind wonders how this pertains to me since Facebook is still not where people go to do business. I want to be able to use the social graph for my own B2B marketing purposes, but here’s what I’m still waiting for:

1. Robust analytics. I want to know how many people are searching for what, who searched for my company page, where they live, how many friends they have, what else they like, and how much money they make. I know I’m asking a lot, but I’m just being honest.

2. The smackdown between LinkedIn’s economic graph and Social Graph. Can the profes-social network remain relevant? How will it respond?

3. Paid advertising capabilities. This should be like Google but smarter, offering relevant results based on social significance of the query. This could look something like me searching for paper companies my friends in Boston like, and discovering hardware suppliers also liked by my friends.

4. Mobile rollout. Since mobile and social go hand in hand, the search comes close to losing its meaning without mobile capabilities.

5. Other languages. English is currently the only language supported in Graph Search.

6. The unification or semi-unification of social and professional profiles. Separation between these two still limits the use of Facebook in the B2B sphere.

7. Insight into posts and open graph actions. How are people interacting with their apps?

8. Well organized communities of professionals. Currently LinkedIn completely dominates this category, but it’s possible this could change as recruiters start using Facebook to find talent.

9. Increased data from additional social networks. Facebook’s social graph is limited to itself, and while that might be God knows how many terabytes of data, it’s still just one network. We want a unified social profile, with yelp.com, LinkedIn, HostelWorld, TripAdvisor, and every other network to talk to each other and build a unified graph for every user.

This is an exciting beginning, but exciting doesn’t always translate to useful. I’m interested to see how this type of technology evolves across all social networks and look forward to hearing how other marketing professionals are anticipating its development and use.

For more comprehensive reviews of the announcement, see Facebook’s newsroom post on Graph Search, Facebook’s post on Graph Search for pages, Facebook’s introduction to Graph Search, an article by Farhad Manjoo on whether this actually makes Facebook useful, and HubSpot’s take on the release.

How useful do you think Facebook’s social graph search will be for B2B marketing?

And if you’re interested in learning more about B2B Marketing, take a look at the top 5 marketing webinars and videos from BrightTALK in 2012. While we’re at it, feel free to like us on Facebook!

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