In a much-anticipated move, Facebook recently announced Graph Search, a way to search its map of connections, images, and other content. And, with the launch of Facebook Graph Search, the social media giant has dived into the search plus social proof game, first attempted by Google with its inclusion of Google+ recommendations in search results.
There are many implications of what this potentially could mean for Google and search in general. However, setting these buckets aside, there are some really interesting ways that this new feature could help marketers as they strive to promote and sell products using social media.
Marketers have known for years -- much before the advent of social media even -- that social proof is a very powerful tool for influencing consumer-buying habits. Marketers have applied these principles to digital by implementing reviews on website product-detail pages, giving them as much as a 30 percent increase in conversion rates. That's an impressive increase, and it only represents a recommendation from someone with whom a visitor is not personally connected. When the recommendation stems from someone a visitor does know, trust increases exponentially; more than 75 percent of consumers trust peer recommendations from friends. And with more than 800 million active Facebook users, the potential to harness social proof and use it to help accomplish marketing objectives is incredible.
So, how does this relate to you and your products?
Social proof on steroids
Graph Search results are ranked by the people with whom you interact most. While I have many friends on Facebook, I interact with and am closer to some more than others. So, if one of my close friends recommends a product or service, my trust in that opinion will be higher than one from someone I don't regularly correspond with. I don't think it's a leap to conclude that consumers would trust the recommendations of people in their close inner circles more so than acquaintances -- which is already very high at 75 percent.
So, as a digital marketer, how would you take advantage of Facebook's newly enabled social proof? The most likely scenario: Facebook enabling marketers, either through Ads Manager or the Ads API, the ability to target ads based on these close connections. Can you imagine the conversion rates? I'm certain they will be far higher than any other search or display medium we use today -- by far.
Currently, for example, users can type "Friends Who" and Graph Search will offer suggestions. Imagine a person searching for "Friends who like running" and Nike Running advertises against that result. Not only will Nike's ad unit be served against a highly targeted audience, it will be accompanied by the social proof of the searchers' closest friends. Bonkers.