Facebook Graph Search: An Answer to Small Business’ Marketing Prayers?

by Joanne Steele on January 25, 2013

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Facebook Graph Search logoThere are new developments at Facebook that are potentially so important to small local businesses that I’m writing about them twice this week.

Once over at Take Control of Your Internet Marketing explaining how the new Graph Search function will actually help local small businesses…

and here to go more deeply into the implications for small town economic development and rural tourism.

Here’s the link to the announcement at Facebook.

Take a moment to look at the videos and if you haven’t yet read the Take Control article, check that also, and then we can review the broader implications of Facebook Graph Search.

A week ago I was at the North Coast SBDC in Eureka, California doing a day-long workshop with my friend and colleague, Diane Strachan. The topic was niche rural tourism and internet marketing, and our audience was primarily startup businesses.

Word of Mouth is where many small local business start their marketing

Di and I follow the “start where they are” path to teaching marketing, and for small rural niche businesses, “where they are” usually involves word-of-mouth marketing. Most of us regularly make buying decisions based on what we’ve heard from friends and acquaintances, so word-of-mouth marketing makes perfect sense to us.

As business owners we’ve had to deal with the age-old reality that when people like something, they tell one person and when they don’t like it, they tell 14. We also have had to deal with the fact that we don’t have much control over word-of-mouth marketing. Businesses do the best they can to provide the best products and customer service and STILL, if someone catches us on an off day when things don’t go well, 14 people get an ear full of how bad we are.

Word of Mouth hits the internet…

Then, along came the internet and review sites and word-of-mouth marketing went in a whole different direction. Now, instead of telling 14 people, disgruntled customers can tell the world!! And instead of ONE PERSON hearing the praise, that too is online for the world to read

Many local small business owners have chosen to ignore those review sites, thinking that as in the olden days before internet review sites, negative word-of-mouth will die down and go away over time. It doesn’t. My message last week in Eureka as it as been for the past 5 years is “Take Control!” Claim your business on those review sites and use your opportunity as the owner of that business to respond to those reviews! Be strategic, be kind, be informative, be grateful for the feedback and use that opportunity to respond!

That was what was available to us as far as our ability to take control of word-of-mouth online.

… and now Mark Zuckerberg may be changing that with Facebook Graph Search

If I understand all that I’ve read correctly, Graph Search is creating a whole new search option based on friends and based on word-of-mouth, two of the most important marketing components for small local businesses.

Google searches are based on information and keywords. Facebook Graph Search is going to be based on friends and their words, interests, recommendations, likes and shares.

If it works like you read about on the Facebook site, it could be of huge benefit to local small business owners. They may not understand the arcane world of SEO, but they have a deep understanding of word-of-mouth.

Setting up and maintaining a functional Facebook presence that elevates their word-of-mouth standing is much easier to teach and understand that trying to get across the importance of keyword phrases, alt tags, meta tags, author tags and all the rest of that SEO gobblygook that contributes to an effective organic search presence!

I will still, for the forseeable future, be teaching SEO gobblygook, because for now, traditional search engines – Google – still rules the search world. But Facebook Graph Search may be attempting to knock Google off the throne.

Facebook has some huge hurtles to get over, namely out of control spam, and privacy. But I’m watching this new development with great interest, and as I said in the article at Take Control, the training path we’ve created in our lesson modules will set our small local business members up to easily benefit from this Graph Search phenomenon.

If you’re a small business development organization, how do you see this new Facebook development affected your Facebook trainings?

 

Here’s a past post that Facebook Graph Search may have answered:

Should Businesses Be Relying on Facebook For Customers?

 

 Again, we see Facebook taking a stab at blurring the lines between these two concepts:

Social Media and Social Networking: Know the Difference

 

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