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Is Facebook Graph Search Sacrificing Quality for Quantity?
Posted on February 6th 2013
For a long time the battle on Facebook and other social media platforms was to get users to engage with a brand, building a deep loyalty that would drive conversions in the long run. The result of this was that putting a value on an individual like or fan became very difficult, as future conversion value could not be determined.
Facebook Graph Search, however, may change all of this.
To Date: Quality Users Drive Value
In the past, Facebook’s analytics firm PageLever has said that only 7.49% of a page’s fans actually see what is posted on it each day. Similarly, TheNextWeb has reported that fewer than 1% of “daily active users” actually engage with content that brands post. Which means that while having a larger number of subscribers will drive a larger number of engaged users, the core value of a page has always been the number of engaged users for a brand. Because social media does not often directly translate to conversions, sales or revenue and because there is a long funnel of engagement before conversion, it is important to keep active users engaged and to build brand advocates who drive other users to your product and site in the hopes of driving long term conversions.
Currently the Facebook conversion funnel is often imagined as an individual’s path to a brand:
But what if the top of the funnel was much wider:
A New Social Goal: Quantity Over Quality?
Once Facebook opens up Graph Search to all of its users, the possibilities for interaction and conversion are as endless as the private information users have stored on their pages. Suddenly, any user could find your brand just by having a connection to someone who’s friends with someone who has connected to your brand in the past. Instead of a brand just hoping to show up in the newsfeed of a friend of a friend, people who like your page and do not specify their privacy settings could be found in thousands of searches, driving any of their connections or friends of their friends to a brand’s page.
Additionally, users can now actively search for people further outside their direct network, such as “pages that friends of my friends have liked recently”, meaning that being in more searches is the key to more visibility and engagement. Since users can find your page through an infinite number of searches, it is becoming more important to fill out all of the information on a given Facebook page, especially location, and to have more users who are connected to your page. Suddenly, it’s not just how many people interact with your brand but how many people each of your brand’s fans could drive to your page that really matters.
The Future: The Merging of Quality and Quantity
I think it’s pretty certain that although brands will now begin to focus more on acquiring a larger user base and more overall fans (and an even more diverse ones to have the largest potential visibility in search results around the world), they will not abandon their legions of brand advocates. While I think in the short run there will be a lot of brands that redo their Facebook pages and turn their social strategies upside down, in the long run things will even out. Yes, it will be more important than ever to be seen in search results by being connected and relevant to more users. But relevance remains the key. As users learn how to use Graph Search, they will also become savvier searchers, weeding out spam and only looking for truly relevant and insightful searches.
Where do you see Facebook Graph Search leading social marketers in the future? Is Quality or Quantity a better place to invest?