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Facebook just rolled out a new beta feature called Graph Search that has massive implications for car dealers. What is Graph Search? Basically, Graph Search is web search with a social twist. Facebook is leveraging its massive social data warehouse in a quest to provide more meaningful results to traditional search queries--- and incidentally keep the search experience entirely contained within the Facebook universe in the process.
If successful, this feature will change the face of online car-shopping as we know it, and automotive professionals who are early adopters will have a huge advantage later. Read on to find out how to leverage Facebook Graph Search at your dealership.
Here are a few examples of traditional versus social search:
As you can see from the examples above, Graph Search is based on one simple and intriguing hypothesis: when it comes to search authority, what if likes are the new links? And if the search algorithm of the future is based not only on page content but also on engagement with it, how can automotive professionals exploit this to their advantage?
The answer is simple. Even from this brief comparison, it’s easy to see the incredibly exciting potential Graph Search could offer for virtually every industry, including automotive. By directly integrating social feedback into search queries, Facebook Graph Search elevates social search from vanity metrics to true intent validation: a like will finally transition from a shallow metric to a true sales indicator.
How? Because by appending traditional search with social context, Facebook users will undoubtedly favor not just the dealership in their area, but the dealership in the area that most of their friends have endorsed.
On the flipside, local dealerships that are low on engagement accolades (likes, check-ins, recommends, etc.) will be rendered largely invisible. It’s the high school popularity contest all over again, except now there are real dollars at stake. So dust off that Prom King tux or Prom Queen gown and let’s talk about how you can rock your likeability for real social revenue (finally!).
1. Get your house in order. With Graph Search, you could potentially see droves of new referring traffic landing on your Facebook business page for the first time. If you haven’t touched your Facebook Business Page since 2010, it’s time to do some spring cleaning. Facebook Graph Search focuses on four elements: People, Photos, Places and Interests, so make sure all your photos are tagged with your dealership name, all of your employees list your dealership page as an interest, etc.
2. Resume your like-drives. Thanks to Graph Search, Facebook likes are the opposite of Lance Armstrong: they are back in a big way. If you stopped doing like-based promotions (ads, fangates, email incentives, etc) it’s time to ramp back up.
3. Target influencers. Not only might people choose a car dealership based on who has the most likes, they may choose based on who has the best likes. For example, if a Facebook searcher has a peer they particularly admire, that person’s single like could carry more weight than 100 random likes. It’s the Klout Effect all over again; so it’s time to start segmenting and engaging your Social VIPS’s. Go through your fans and target those who have the biggest following: these are your new “celebrity endorsers” and you would be smart to engage with them.
4. Sharpen your marketing campaigns. One neat thing about Facebook Graph Search is the option for cross-combined search. Take advantage of this to try a few fun cross-searches like “Friends who like Excellence Motors and dogs” or “Friends who like Excellence Motors and Boardwalk Empire and dogs” or “Friends who like Excellence Motors and are in college and like dogs and Boardwalk Empire.” This kind of search could not only provide endless amusement (does anyone remember Winespacing?) it could also help you get a better sense of your target audience and plan more relevant and more creative marketing campaigns in the future. If you have a lot of dog-lovers, you may want to change your “car-washes for life” special to a “free interior detailing” special. If you have a lot of skiers, offer a winterizing special. The possibilities are endless.
5. Up your Bing budgets. This one is optional, but Facebook Graph Search does integrate with Bing, meaning any Graph Searches that don’t return results will default to the normal Bing results. Thus, it may be worth upping your budgets for this search engine just to cover your bases.
One thing not to do: Do NOT pull out of traditional SEO. Facebook Graph Search is neat, but it’s new, and it’s niche-based. It doesn’t search the whole web, only people in your network, so it’s not the most representative sample.
Also, although right now Bing is integrating with Facebook, my guess is in the future it will be the opposite: traditional search overlaid with “social color.” Both have their place, so it’s worth maintaining a presence in both until we see how things really shake out.
In conclusion, the main thing that Graph Search really does is fulfill the original Facebook promise: that vibrant fan pages will translate into vibrant profits. For many of us, this will mean some serious social CPR. It’s been years now, and the Facebook page our boss so enthusiastically forced us to create in 2010 is now gathering dust; the dollar signs in your DP’s eyes have long since faded to cynical derision.
“Likes” they snort. “Over it!” By now they’ve most likely overdosed on TED Talks and are madly enamored with mobile and roaming the halls preaching the gospel of responsive design. But it’s time to get your boss back on board. Graph Search is finally connecting those dots so that all the fame and fortune you thought was going to flood in when you set up your company’s Facebook page in 2010 is finally going to happen now. Yay!
About the Author
|Jade Makana is the Corporate Storyteller at Cobalt. Jade specializes in bringing corporate brands to life through emerging media. As a formally-educated social media expert, her social media work has been linked in The New York Times, CNN Money, and InStyle Magazine.|