Social Media Tips - A Closer Look at Facebook's Graph Search

This article is first in a three-part series on Facebook's Graph Search.

Facebook is moving into search with the introduction of its Graph Search feature. Travel Agent spoke with social media experts to find out what’s behind the new feature and what it means for hoteliers. Graph Search is currently in beta.

Graph Search is a social search feature, which means that it uses the social data Facebook has on its users to provide relevant context to a user’s query, said Tim Peter, president of e-commerce and Internet marketing firm Tim Peter and Associates.

 “The classic case that’s laid out is: if I search for ‘java,’ do I mean the island, the programming language or the cup of coffee?” Peter said. “Facebook obviously knows immense amounts about you based on activities you like, so the idea behind Graph Search is it can help provide a better search result because of all the stuff it knows about you and what you like. If I do a search for restaurants near me, and it knows I like Italian restaurants and delis, it has an opportunity to say, here’s an Italian place. It’s also liked by people who like the same things you like, so it’s a pretty safe bet you’ll like it too.”

Toby Bloomberg, director of social media integration for Cox Digital Media, said the feature could be an opportunity to reach out to previously unexplored market segments.

“You may be reaching audiences that you might not have considered because they’re coming in from what their friends like,” Bloomberg said. “I might be a guy who likes motorcycles, and that might not be on your radar, but because my friends are riding motorcycles and they’re talking about your property all of a sudden that segment is coming in.”

Social search is still new, and because of that much remains to be seen about how Graph Search will affect travel once the feature finishes beta testing.

“Search is highly predictive of what somebody’s about to do, so it works really well at converting customers,” said Peter. “Social search, because it’s very new and not a behavior a lot of customers are taking yet, is not as strong a predictor.”

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