Earlier this year, Facebook made an announcement about its future that set the marketing world abuzz. Their newest search feature (known as "Graph Search") is available for beta testing for Facebook users now, and the results could change the way that businesses and individuals connect for good.
Why Does It Matter?
Unlike many forms of "native marketing" (in-video ads, sponsored links hovering on the right side of your window) that users can easily bypass or tune out, Graph Search aims to integrate user activity with advertiser messages in a way that feels organic and relevant. If successful, this technology could be built into other engines, forever changing the level of intimacy that advertisers share with their audience.
How Does It Work?
This new technology is based on the idea of a social "grid." Combining the "Likes" of a user and their network with user-generated queries, Graph Search pinpoints a relevant piece of corresponding data and serves up the results. All those collective "Likes" and "Check-Ins" of the past (and future!) will combine to give businesses a pass to the front of the virtual line, in terms of visibility.
No, Really, How Does It Work?
One example might look like this: Little Diner has had 20 check-ins over the last year from numerous friends of User X. The next time that User X queries, "Nearby restaurants my friends liked," Little Diner will have better chances of appearing front and center.
The increased relevancy would appear to benefit both parties--the User receives information that is better-geared to their interests and demographic, and Advertisers spend less revenue foisting ads on uninterested parties.
What About Privacy?
If this sounds a little "Big Brother" to you, you aren't alone. Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of their data being mined in order to make them a better sales target. An increasing concern about privacy preoccupies the minds of some users. For these critics, there is an assurance that any interaction conducted under "Private" status will remain just that--invisible to the public eye.
What Does This Mean for Advertisers?
Although its precise effects remain to be seen, for advertisers the future is clear--developing an online presence and engaging in social networks is no longer optional. What was once viewed as advertising "gravy" is now part of the main course. Evolution means developing your brand, and learning to manage social media.
Have No Fear
Although it may feel overwhelming (particularly to businessesses who have not yet ventured into this brave new world), most local search marketing agencies have been honing the craft for years, and can provide the guidance needed for a successful transition.