Facebook Graph Search and Nearby: Why they Matter for Local Businesses

Over the past few months, Facebook made some big announcements involving two key products: Graph search and Nearby in the mobile app. Both are incredibly relevant to local businesses, so we thought we'd take a minute to walk through the use and significance of each.

Facebook Graph Search

Chances are you've conducted many searches on Google. The reults that may show up when you search for "Restaurants in Boston" will differ based on your location, and the results that show up first are prioritized based on the principles of search engine optimization. This includes linkbacks, keywords and subject/content relevance to the search terms. Facebook graph search is similar, except it also introduces elements of the searchers social connections. As an example, a search for "restaurant's in Boston" will be influenced heavily by the restaurants in Boston that your friends on Facebook have engaged with. As an example, see the below screenshot.

Simply running this search in Facebook will now surface a list of restaurant facebook pages in Boston that are relevant to me based off my friends' interactions with them on Facebook. Rather thank considering linkbacks, FB graph search matches the results by the category of the business facebook page, and prioritizes the list based off which of my facebook friends like that business. The more of my friends that "like" the business page, the higher it shows up in my unique search results. 

Sample Facebook Graph Search results

The key difference to Facebook Graph Search and Google Search is that everyone's results will be unique in FB search because of the differences in your social connections.

Facebook "Nearby" Search on Mobile

In the native Facebook applications for iPhone, Android, etc, Facebook quietly launched a "nearby" tab. Similarly to Facebook Graph search, you can run search queries like "restaurants". And, as you might imagine, the results differ per person based off your own facebook activity and engagements with local restaurants, or your friends. In the below screen shot, you'll see that a quick search for restaurants in Boston yields a few results based off proximity to where you're standing, as well as notifying the searcher of businesses you've liked  on Facebook.

Facebook Nearby Search Results

So, What does this all mean and what should you do about it?

First and foremost, be sure to have an accurate, engaged social presence. If you don't yet believe in Facebooks ability to drive in-store revenues, check out our earlier post, and think again.

Second, engage your most loyal, in-store customers to like your business page on Facebook. This will significantly increase your chances of getting found in relevent graph search or nearby searches from high intent customers.

Lastly, make a commitment to building community and engaging your facebook fans regularly. Having your fans like, comment or share your posts will help expose you to new potential fans through the news feed.