This is part one of a guest post series by Taylor Gaines, Founder of TNT Digital Media. In this series, Taylor covers how search plays a significant role in social media, how social search differs from typical search engines like Google, and how you can learn to use it to your advantage.
Social Media is a mini search engine. We can find friends, businesses, new products, and information. So what makes searching through social very distinct from Google? One word: Culture. In this series, we will review the social channels and discuss how to search within the platform, how to be found, and what it means for your brand.
Facebook Search Filters
Facebook cares about connecting people to people. The peer-to-peer interactions is what drives the platform and influences the products they continue to evolve and roll out. Back in April, Facebook rolled out new search filters allowing Facebook users to filter search results based on what their friends, groups, or other centers of influence were already talking about.
Similar to Google, Facebook cares about relevancy. However, the main distinction is the social component and being able to find pages and recommendations based on who you are connected too.
Facebook Places and Local Pages
Continuing on the path of relevancy, Local Pages are a great way to optimize engagement. Facebook pages allow users to get more info on a brand, see a list of services and products, and even directly connect with the business through messaging.
Facebook has recently been ramping up its efforts as a business directory, last year announcing Facebook Places (a search engine for nearby services). Currently, they are testing a new shop feature in Southeast Asia that will let businesses list their products and sell them directly without additional costs. They have also begun recommending local points of interests to users.
Why the obsession with location? Culture! Think of west coast vs. east coast. The culture of the two coasts are drastically different. If your brand has any chance of developing a strong presence in any market, it starts with understanding who the people are within that market, and where they are. A study done by Socialbakers found that local Facebook pages far outperform global brand pages in engagement. This is because customers and businesses want to find each other more easily, and geo-positioning is a large piece of that puzzle.
Local Pages are also tremendously valuable for travelers researching a place before they arrive. 52% of Facebook users said they started planning a trip after being inspired by their friend’s social media posts. In a study involving users researching their vacation through social media, 33% ended up switching hotels. Even after travelers reach their destination, the search doesn’t stop there. According to a recent study by Search Engine Land, 33% of local search is performed by non-locals. You should always make sure you’re reflecting the local culture of the market you’re in to retain current customers, increase interactions, and attract new customers looking for a local experience.
There is a popular term in search marketing called ‘referral traffic.’ Referral traffic is the number of visits to your website. Facebook pages operate similar to websites because they act as a landing page. Facebook’s News Feed algorithm emphasizes personal content over brand content, which means that in the past year there has been a significant decline in referral traffic for brands on Facebook.
What this means for your brand, is to keep on the path of relevancy and publishing content that will provide value to the customer. Companies will have to create content worth sharing naturally, such as interesting articles or deals and offers. The more authentic your brand is, the higher likelihood of keeping enagement up, generating more referral traffic, and increasing conversions.
People will never stop seeking out ‘things’- whether that thing is people, products, services, or curiosity. If you pay attention to the culture behind the platform, and understand the platform’s content delivery process, then your brand can incorporate that into its marketing strategy. Happy searching!