Why Facebook Graph Search Could be Hugely Important for Schools

Mark Zuckerburg announced Graph Search at the Facebook HQ earlier this year. It has the potential to revolutionise the industry of search and social discovery.

What is Graph Search?

Graph Search replaces Facebook’s currently limited search feature to allow people to search using rich connections between people, places, photos and interests - all tied to real identities. This will create searches such as “restaurants in London that my friends have been to” and “films that teachers in my city watch”.

Is it available now?

No. Zuckerburg has said that Graph Search is in “very early beta” and will begin to roll out to U.S. users first. Long term, it will be available globally and eventually on mobile. You can join the waiting list to get a chance at using it as soon as possible.

What makes Graph Search so different?

All major search engines currently index the whole internet to enable you to find websites, articles, videos and other types of content that is related to specific keywords.

Graph Search is different in that it indexes over 1 billion people across the world and connects them to places, photos and interests. Facebook is essentially bringing social into search.

Google understand the importance that social will play in search which is why they launched Google+ and Search Plus Your World. Unfortunately for Google, they do not have anywhere near the level of social data that Facebook has.

I want to explore two reasons why Graph Search will disrupt schools marketing:

  1. Discovery
  2. Research

1. Discovery

If your school is not already on Facebook then you need to develop a long-term strategy, and quick. Facebook is investing billions into search and it is likely that it will succeed with their goals. It is already a powerful tool for schools using the network effect and social sharing. However, this relies on advocacy and visibility. What Graph Search will change is the ability to find your school when the user wants to - just like typical search engines.

Facebook will almost certainly take a chunk of Google’s share of search. People will be able to use their social network of friends to make informed decisions about which school to send their child. If your school has a passionate community of pupils, parents and even the general public then you will increase your chances of discovery on Graph Search. The more likes you acquire, the more social votes you gain.

2. Research

It is not just products or services that will benefit from Graph Search, it is also us as marketers. It allows us to search for people like never before. The capabilities that it will enable can potentially reinvent market research.

You can use Graph Search to find correlations of what people like. For example, you could find out that people who like sports generally like BMW - great information for buyer personas. This gives your market research much more power and allows you to target demographics much more effectively.

There are endless possibilities to how your school can use the research capabilities on offer. 

Three examples of how you could use Graph Search for your school’s research:

  • A look into correlations between subjects - “How many people like History and Geography”
  • Researching next year’s trips to London - “Which museums in London do my friends like”
  • Who likes girls’ education and certain subjects - “People that like girls education and art”

Fan Research

How often do you send out questionnaires to parents? How successful are they? If you have a strong parent community on Facebook then you can find out a huge amount of information about them - for free. And, they have already provided this information. You do not need to send them any forms to fill out. Segmentation will be huge for marketers and it is something I’m sure Facebook will be further developing. 

Competitive Analysis 

Not only do you have access to your own fans but also your competitors. Are there similarities? Do their fans have different behaviour? What can you learn? Analysing your competitors is vital to succeed online. 

Reconnect with Alumnae 

One of the main refining features on Graph Search is the ability to filter people by their school. Most people on Facebook share their previous schools as it helps them reconnect with old friends. This will also now allow you to reconnect with your Alumnae. Not only that but you can actually perform research on them. 

It is very early days for Graph Search but the signs are promising. This is the future for Facebook and they will continue to innovate their search capabilities. It will be exciting to see it unfold and witness what Google have up their sleeves (they won’t want to lose anybody to Facebook). 

How do you feel about Graph Search? Will you sign up to the waiting list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.