Marketers mixed on Facebook search

17 January 2013

NEW YORK: Facebook's Graph Search function has met with a positive reaction from much of the marketing industry, although some have expressed reservations about the newly-announced initiative.

Graph Search, currently available in beta and only in the US, is designed to allow Facebook members to use phrases, such as 'friends in New York who like Jay-Z', to sift through people, photos, places and interests that have been shared on the site.


When such searches are made, search results from the rest of the web will be shown alongside, with these results powered by Microsoft's Bing search engine.

"Graph Search presents immediate opportunities for brands focused on local and wanting to maximize the optimization of their content assets," Chris Copeland, CEO at GroupM Next, the digital insights business, told MediaPost.

"The Facebook page optimization component will be key for brands," he continued, "as will the ability to get individuals to connect with a brand as a result of compelling content."

Meanwhile, Mindshare, the media agency, said that, for brands, "the scale of immediate opportunity ahead with Graph Search will likely be dictated based on the importance of Local and Mobile access to their business".

This in turn suggests that brands with brick and mortar locations – national retailers, restaurants, hotels – will be looking to engage more Facebook fans to ensure that when someone is looking for a recommendation they are present.

"I think it's quite revolutionary," Midu Chandra, director of social media at Reprise Media, the search marketing business, told B&T.

"I think it will become very important in how influential Facebook actually becomes for brands," she added, "it really brings Facebook back into that peer-to-peer influence space."

Meanwhile, Rich Skrenta, CEO of search engine blekko, said Graph Search made more sense on mobile than on the fixed-line internet, and pointed out that the natural language interface also made sense when paired with mobile-based voice recognition systems like Siri.

But Macquarie Securities analyst Ben Schachter, pointed out the "less-than-impressive Bing integration previously implemented" into Facebook. He added that he preferred to wait and see how Facebook implements the changes and how users adapt to them before passing judgement.

Data sourced from MediaPost/B&T; additional content by Warc staff