Written by Rick Mans

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Facebook Graph Search, Heaven and Hell for Enterprises

You might have heard of the introduction of Facebook’s Graph Search. Which is just a difficult name for social search. Facebook enables you to explore your network, their likes, their connections and basically all the data they share with you in a very natural way. For example you can search for:

  • Friends who live in Spijkenisse (My home town)
  • Single friends who live in Spijkenisse and like beer
  • Single male friends who live in Spijkenisse who like beer and soccer

As you can see Facebook can find everything that has some kind of relation with one and other. And that exactly why it is both heaven and hell for enterprises. However first take a look at this release video from Facebook that provides you with more examples on graph search and an explanation why they did it:

Why could this be hell for enterprises?

It might be obvious, if you can search for nice relations, you can search for bad relations as well. So imagine the following searches:

  • Employees of company X that like racism
  • Employees of company X that like getting drunk
  • Employees of company X that like the holocaust
  • Or less harmful: “People who work at Coca-Cola and who like Pepsi”

Those searches could create at least an interesting viewpoint on your company. You could imagine that on slow news days some intern at a newspaper who is bored will do some Facebook graph searches and will create a nice news item that can fit a sidebar on the front page.

It is not something new, some people within enterprises have a specific taste or distaste and certain preferences, however graph search exposes this in a very easy way. Easier than it was before. It show cases that real people working at your company, however real people with real preferences can be harmful for your brand. Since you wouldn’t like to be listed in the ‘Top 10 most racist companies in healthcare’, or would you?

However everything is just the same as yesterday, it seems that you have some employees that in their personal life doesn’t fit your profile of ideal employee. It seems they are just human. As long as it doesn’t hinder the way they work, why worry? You might want to provide them with some additional education, since if this effecting your brand, it effects their personal brand as well. Not many people are aware what is public and what is not public on Facebook so go the extra mile for them and educate them on how they can use Facebook in a way that doesn’t harm them in any way, instead of just thinking of the self-interest of your company.

This is absolutely heaven for enterprises!

If you are hiring people, you hire for cultural fit not necessarily for skills. Since skills can be trained, culture is less trainable. However how would you define your culture and how to find the right fit? Well these graph searches could help:

  • Friends of people working at company X that are engineers and that like Monty Python and The Office
  • Project Managers that like Pulp Fiction and Terminator
  • Librarians that like War and Peace

Interests can be a great indicator of a certain culture. If your web development shop is all about Monty Python jokes why not look for somebody who is already a friend of one of your employees, who is an engineer and has the same taste in jokes. You have  a better chance in getting the right person for the right job a lot faster.

In case you are planning to create a new marketing campaign how do you create something your customers can relate to? Simple use their interests that they already expressed on Facebook, for example:

  • Movies liked by people who like Company X
  • Music liked by people who like Company X

Using this information you can find the movies, celebrities, music that people on Facebook that are related to your brand like most and you can create an experience they relate to. And these things are not one-dimensional. You can add more context to the query such as:

  • Movies liked by people who like Company X who live in the Netherlands and like Rock Music

You can make it is as narrow or as complex as you would like to, though you can get to know more about your fans than you have ever  had the opportunity to.

What do I need to do now with this information

First of all reread this article why you should integrate with the Facebook open graph, now with graph search it has become more important.

If you are a retailer not only focus on the connection between your brand and other things, focus on the relation between the products you are selling and all the other things people like as well. If you can find a correlation between what products people like, what people buy, what people talk about, what people recommend to their friends, you are gaining so much more insight than you have already know.

If you are a smart company you will be able to harness this data in such a way that your customers can benefit from it. However not all information is public and not all of your customers are liking you on Facebook. So if you would like to really harness this information you have to give your customers a reason to like you. Of course an iPad give-a-way could be an easy way to get people in, however you might want to try something more sustainable, since you not only need their data, you would like to make sure they have a reason to be loyal as well.

The opportunity to go beyond customer expectations never has been so close for you. Now you need to find a way to connect and to execute.