Your company will not be visited by 1.2 billion people this month. But Facebook will.

Why do I mention this?  Two words: Graph Search.

Graph Search is now active for all users who have selected English as language on Facebook.com.  With this new search functionality, Facebook serves hyper-relevant and unique search results to all its users.  Your challenge as a business is to be featured in as many relevant search results as possible. You also want to rank well in the search results: like any search result, the higher up in the search results you are, the more visitors you get.

We will go over how you as a company can use the Graph Search to build engagement and expand your community, but first thing’s first: we need to ensure that you appear in the search results when users search for your company or products or services that is relevant for your company.

Make sure that users find you in Graph Search

Facebook wants to deliver the most relevant search results possible.  For Facebook to understand what our Facebook page is about and what searches as it should appear in, we need to ensure that our Page Information is completed, relevant and accurate.

Step 1: Check your Page Information

With Graph Search live, it is now more important than ever that we have filled in all the information in our Page Information: line items like business address, phone number, hours of operation, correct category, and description of the company are all fields that should be completed.  If we do not tell Facebook that we are a restaurant, Facebook will not understand that we are a restaurant.  This means that our Page will not be displayed in any search results for restaurants.

For example, I will soon visit San Francisco, and during my stay I will probably get hungry. So let’s start to use Graph Search by searching for restaurants in San Francisco.

The three top restaurants in the search results have all selected the right category and filled in their address. Without that information, they would not come up in my search results.

Step 2: Urge your customers to take action on your Facebook Page

There are a lot of restaurants in San Francisco.  Why do we find these three restaurants in the top of my search results?

Facebook rewards engagement: look at the number of Cliff House checkins on Facebook. It has way more check-ins than the other restaurants, and this is one of several ranking factors used by Facebook when sorting the search results. The company with the most activity in the form of check-ins and likes will appear higher up in the search results.

Try to bump engagement within Facebook by giving your customers easy ways to be active.  Put your Facebook page on your website, on your business cards and, in this case, why not put it on the menu? Make sure that you include the URL to your Facebook Page and always give the users a reason to “like” you. You can, for example, give away discounts to customers who check in and have promotions and offers exclusive to your fans.

Basically, get creative and give your customers a good reason to check in and like you.

Step 3: Engage!

Facebook likes aren’t any more important than emotional likes, even within Facebook.  See all those stars in the search results?  Visitors who check in will be given the option to rate you, giving you from one star to five stars. Having five stars obviously looks better than having one, so in the midst of this quest for check-ins and activity on Facebook, you must not forget the most important thing: always exceed your customers’ expectations.

Another strong ranking factor in the search results is our friends’ activity. The Cliff House appears high up in my search result because I also have friends who have checked in at The Cliff House. So again, engagement matters!

To ensure that we engage our followers, we need to revisit our presence on Facebook. How often do you publish new posts?  Are your postings interesting? Do your posts engage many of your followers? Do you respond quickly to questions and comments that are written by others on your Facebook Page?  (If you want some tips, check out my other Facebook marketing tips.)

The shortlist: publish posts at least 4-5 posts a week, use pictures and call to actions in your posts, ask questions, be engaging and entertaining, offer promotions exclusive to your fans and listen to your fans. A strong presence on Facebook is key to appear higher up in search results.

Learn more about your followers and expand your community

With the three steps mentiond above, we have ensured that users more easily will find our Facebook page and our company. So let’s get down to business and explore how we, as business owners, can take advantage of Graph Search.

Step 4: Find out who your fans are and what they are interested in

Companies often have a hard time understanding who their fans on Facebook are. But thanks to Graph Search, we can locate many of our Page’s followers, learn more about who they are and what they are interested in.

I can, for example, search for users who like our Facebook page for LikeAlyzer, our free analytics tool for Facebook Pages.

With this search query, I will see all users who like LikeAlyzer and who openly share the Pages that they like. I can send a friend request or a message to these users, see where they come from, see what they like and so on. But that might be intrusive, so I’m more likely to start by looking to see what other pages that our followers like (“Pages liked by users who like LikeAlyzer”), what interests our followers have (“Favorite interests of users who like Likealyzer” ), where our followers been checking in (“Places visited by users who like Likealyzer and That live in San Francisco, California”), books that our followers like (Favorite books of users who like Likealyzer) and so on. With all this information, I will get a greater understand for our followers and can spot trends that will be useful for my content strategy, Facebook ads or my own profile information.

Step 5: Identify and monitor your competitors

I can find what followers of my competitors Page’s likes just as easily as my own. Let’s say that I want to open a restaurant in San Francisco. First I search for restaurants in San Francisco to find my biggest competitors. On their Pages, I can then see how many followers and checkins they have (if there aren’t any Pages with a lot of likes or checkins, I should probably start my restaurant in another location, or at least offer delivery service). By finding my competitors, I can learn from their Pages and posts and see what works and what does not.

Next, I can search for interests that users have who likes my competitors (“Favorite interests of users that like Restaurants in San Francisco, California”) to see what my potential customer enjoy besides dining out. This information can again be used when I try to create engaging posts and ads. At the same time, it’s good to keep an eye on ones competitors, their posts and their popularity.

Facebook is on the verge of launching the ability to search for posts. So soon you will be able to search for posts that your competitors are published (“posts by restaurants in San Francisco”), which will give you even more information about your competitors on Facebook.

Step 6: Find people and companies to network with

Graph Search can also be used to find people and companies for networking. In my blog post 3 Reasons Your Company Should Like Other Pages on Facebook, I discuss the benefits of networking with other businesses on Facebook – and with Graph Search, it’s much easier to find companies and people who may be relevant and interesting to network with for your company.

You can start by searching for groups that may be interesting for you to participate in. In my case, where I have a restaurant in San Francisco, I am interested in talking to people who like Pizza (since this will be my main dish) and Restaurant in San Francisco. Therefore, I can search for relevant groups (“Groups of people that like Pizza and Restaurants in San Francisco, California”), join these groups and network with the people in these groups (just remember to always provide value – never SPAM).

You can also search for new partners who can help your company. As a pizza restaurateur, I would like to network with various event companies that can get more people to visit my restaurant. I can, for example, search for event companies In my location (“Event Planning places in San Francisco, California”). The next step is to like these Pages and build a relationship with the peoples behind the Page.

You can also search for events on Facebook (i.e. “Events in San Francisco”), which can help you find relevant events for your company.

Your turn to use Graph Search

At the end of the day, the most important thing to remember about Graph Search is that – like any other search – we want to rank well in as many relevant results as possible.  While we’re at it, we can learn more about our followers and competitors in order to create more engaging posts and drive more visitors to our Facebook page.

Like all social media marketing initiatives, engagement is the key to success!

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