I found it humorous that Yelp’s stock prices fell after Facebook announced Graph Search. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Facebook over the years, it’s that the only thing they’ve been able to slay in their various attempts to jump into something was social networking pioneer MySpace, and even they’re bringing sexy back to some extent. Facebook didn’t kill Foursquare. It couldn’t kill Twitter. It never emerged as a blip on Amazon’s radar and their Craigslist killer was a no-show. No, Facebook will not replace Yelp for business reviews and they won’t make a measurable impression on Google’s search dominance.
Facebook Graph Search has a very high potential of greatly improving the user experience. It will be able to keep people more engaged than they already are (if that’s even possible) with what their friends and family are doing. It will make some users more cautious about what they like on Facebook, while making other users increase their liking ways. In many ways, it will have users sculpting their Facebook profiles, interests, photos, and liked pages to fit in with how they want to be perceived.
It may assist with dating as some have speculated. Finding people of like-interests among your friends will be easier, so saying, “Hey Betty, I didn’t know you like rock climbing. I’m hitting a cliff this weekend if you’re interested,” will be more common.
From a purely business and marketing perspective, there will be changes to strategy that will come and go. Things will work for a time, then stop working, then potentially become damaging, then work again all of a sudden a few weeks later. That’s just part of the ebb and flow of Facebook marketing. The right strategies become the wrong strategies and then re-emerge as the right strategies later.
If there’s one thing that businesses, particularly localized ones, can do now to prepare for the changes, it’s that they have to be more engaging (gosh I hate that word sometimes) and strive to not only get local likes but to keep them. They cannot be an eyesore, an embarrassment to a fan base that will be much more public in their likings. People will need reasons to continue to like pages as they start to feel the need to prune and improve how the world views their tastes and interests. Start now. Make yours the type of page that people will proudly like, the type of page that brings value to the fans. Otherwise, the “great benefits” to business that many are already preaching will turn out to be the trigger for a mass exodus of your company’s exposure on social media.