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February 4, 2015

How to Use Facebook Graph Search to Know Your Audience

Photo by Brian Solis — Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving his F8 Keynote.

For any business or brand, understanding your audience is critical for long-term success. Understanding your audience allows for better communication, enhanced promotions and targeted marketing tactics that lead to bottom line growth and other positive results. Until recently, gaining this understanding has been somewhat difficult while using Facebook – especially on mobile devices.

Facebook’s Mobile Search Announcement

On December 8 of 2014, Facebook announced that its graph search technology would be made available to users on mobile devices – this announcement came approximately two years after the technology was unveiled for traditional, desktop users.

In simple terms, using graph search technology, users – including brand managers – can search for past posts using keywords and hashtags, similar to the way Twitter and Instagram operate but even more detailed. In the past, Facebook’s search was limited to finding other users, but now, searches can be preformed for anything.

The change came after users let the network know that search was one of the most critical functions they’d been looking for on Facebook, especially on the go, according to Tom Stocky, vice president of search for the company.

Graph search allows Facebook to function like a more traditional search network, making it possible for users to search for any number of phrases, keywords or groups of friends, like, “co-workers who watch Criminal Minds.” Instead of searching for single keywords, the function works like a graph or funnel, narrowing down results by searching multiple fields to produce accurate, useful results.

Ways to User Search to Learn More About Your Audience

The benefits of graph search to average, everyday Facebook mobile users are obvious. It’s now easier than ever to find past posts that they may not have had time to read, to remember conversations or to find photos that they’ve otherwise misplaced. However, the advantages to brands are also numerous. Consider the following options for using Facebook’s graph search to gain better insights relating to your audience and target market.

Find Potential Followers

Social media has opened the doors as far as connectivity is concerned. Privacy settings can be controlled, but, for the most part, users are open to connecting with others and with brands that share their interests; interconnectedness has taken on a whole new meaning.

Facebook’s graph search takes this one step further. Brands looking to increase their reach can now search for potential fans based on location or interests. Furniture stores in Lincoln, Nebraska can run a search for “Residents of Lincoln, Nebraska interested in home décor,” then reach out to those that are displayed in the results. Casting a wide net has never been easier.

Learn About the Interests of Your Existing Followers

The more you know about your followers, the more you’re able to cater your content toward them. Facebook’s graph search enables this process. By running a search for “favorite interests of people who like [insert your page’s name here]” you can narrow down the top results.

By understanding what your followers’ interests are, you can create blog posts and promotions around them. Personalized marketing has officially been simplified.

Learn About Your Competition

In addition to searching for the interests of your followers, you could run a search for “favorite brands of people who like [insert your page’s name here].” From there, you can look around at the pages of your competitors, find out what’s appealing and look for ways to improve your own strategy.

Host Relevant Contests

You’re familiar with social network contests. Chances are, you’ve hosted one or two for your brand at some point in the past. The general premise is this: by offering a prize, you can increase your brand’s ability to interact with fans by encouraging comments, “likes,” and shares for entries. But, what if your past contests have fallen short or seem to be missing the mark?

It might come down to the prizes being offered in the first place. Using Facebook’s graph search function, this no longer needs to be a concern. By searching for the favorite movies, books and hobbies of your followers, you can offer creative prizes that cater to these favorites. Something as small as a shift in prizes offered could make all the difference.

Narrow Down Your Target Demographic

Figuring out a target market can be a challenge, especially in the beginning or for brands that offer a variety of products that meet different needs. While your products or services may appeal to a wide range of individuals, understanding who is actually paying attention on Facebook is important.

Using Facebook’s search, brand managers can now break down audience members into segments, by gender, age, location and more. Once trends begin to emerge, content and other social marketing can be modified to reach members of the target demographic more effectively.

Use Location Information to Target Local Markets

Using the demographic information gleaned from the step above, you can also modify advertising and marketing – especially on Facebook – to reach the right users based on location. That’s what Ransome CAT does to target new potential fans and customers on Facebook, targeting business owners near their Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware locations.

Facebook makes it easy to “boost” posts, or to partake in other forms of pay-per-click advertising. One of the categories that can be targeted is location. By understanding where the majority of your users are located, you can reach new users by increasing the advertising budget in that locale, along with external directory listings and other forms of marketing in general.

The options for using Facebook’s graph search to gain valuable insights relating to your audience are endless. Take the time to become familiar with the feature and to try out a few searches. Track what you find and look for ways to modify your Facebook content accordingly.


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Adrienne Erin writes weekly for SiteProNews about online marketing strategies that help businesses succeed. Visit her blog Design Roast to see more of her work. Follow @adrienneerin on Twitter get in touch.

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