While Google is still the search engine of choice for most people – with 92.46% market share among search engines, according to StatCounter – Facebook holds its ground when it comes to local search, and it’s an important stop in the customer journey for many consumers who turn to the social media giant to conduct research on brands and products, discover new products, and more. Here’s what marketers need to know about Facebook search and how you can use it to your advantage.
Why social media matters for brands
Screenshot via GlobalWebIndex
In its 2019 social media trends report, GlobalWebIndex found that 42% of consumers use social media to research new brands or products, and 29% of consumers say it’s one of their primary reasons for using social media. Just under half (48%) of consumers could be considered “brand interactors,” or those who like, follow, and share content from brands, click on promoted or sponsored posts, or otherwise engage with brands on social media. 36% of social networking users say they follow their favorite brands on social media, and 25% follow brands they’re considering making a purchase from.
Clearly, social media platforms like Facebook are making it possible for consumers to discover new brands and products and to connect and engage with brands they’re loyal to. But beyond paying for Facebook ads and trying to out-wit the Facebook algorithm to boost your organic reach, Facebook offers another way for users to find content that interests them on the platform through Facebook search.
A brief history of Facebook search
Screenshot via Facebook
In 2013, Facebook introduced Graph Search, meant to be a semantic search engine for responding to users’ natural language queries by gleaning information from users’ friends. Users could search for People, Places, Pages, locations where their friends have checked in or been tagged, and more. While Graph Search went by the wayside as Facebook continued to update its search algorithms, some of its core functionality remains today.
In 2015, Facebook launched Search FYI, which offers auto-populated suggestions based on real-time happenings as users type in the search bar, with results including not only friends’ posts, but also public posts, allowing users to follow popular stories and trending news.
How Facebook search works
Search FYI, like Graph Search, is a personalized product producing results based on the user’s activity on Facebook – but not the user’s activity off of the platform. Activities that can influence search results include:
- Content your friends share with you
- Pages you follow
- Groups you’re a member of
- Events you’re following
- Posts you’ve interacted with in your News Feed
- Information you’ve included on your profile
- Locations where you’ve been tagged
- Your previous searches
Community activity, such as the popularity of what a user is searching for and how recently something was posted, can also influence the search results.
The default results view is “All,” but users can select several options to view results specific to the Marketplace, Posts, People, Photos, Video, Pages, Places, Groups, Apps, Events, or Links. There are even more filtering options along the left-hand sidebar (on desktop) which allow users to filter results to posts from anyone, specific friends, etc., types of posts, posts from groups, posts with tagged locations, and date ranges.
What Facebook search means for marketers
What does all of this mean for you, a marketer? While you can’t control what Facebook users are searching for, you can use Facebook’s search functionality to your advantage in a few ways.
Use Facebook search to find your audience
Wondering what groups your target customers participate in, which pages they follow, and what their interests are? Use Facebook search to discover your audience and gain valuable insights about their interests and activities. Simply enter relevant keywords in the search bar and explore the Pages, Groups, People, Places, and Events that appear in the search results. Exploring your audience’s other interests can give you great blog post ideas, too.
Use Facebook search to find public posts with a particular link
If you’re wondering what the Facebook community has been saying about your latest blog post (or your competitor’s viral blog post), you can use search to find all public posts connected to the link by simply pasting the URL into the search bar.
Optimize your Facebook Pages for search
When users search for something on Facebook, they’re using keywords and phrases – just like they do on Google. While Facebook’s search algorithm and Google’s algorithm are not the same, you can apply the same basic principles to optimizing your Page for search on Facebook. Completely filling out your Facebook Page information, including your “About” section, your website, your address and phone number, and other details, can help your Facebook Page show up in branded and category searches, and your location info is essential for showing up in users’ local searches such as, “restaurants near me.”
Don’t forget about your Facebook posts
Your Facebook Page isn’t the only thing that you can optimize for search. While you shouldn’t over-optimize your Facebook posts, it certainly doesn’t hurt to make sure your post content includes relevant keywords. Don’t resort to tactics like keyword stuffing or adding completely irrelevant (but popular) keywords to your posts – you want your audience to engage with your posts, too, so you don’t want to turn them off with spammy content. Speaking of engagement…
Take steps to increase engagement
Remember, Facebook’s search results aren’t based solely on the user’s activity on the platform, but community activity, as well. That means that public posts with higher levels of engagement could be more likely to show up in relevant searches than posts with little to no activity. Pages with higher engagement levels are also more likely to have their posts show up in real Facebook followers’ news feeds, boosting organic reach, so it’s a win-win.
One simple way to get more traction on Facebook is to install social media share buttons on your website to encourage readers to share your content on Facebook and other social networks, increasing your content’s popularity, reach, and visibility. Not only will those posts appear in the feeds of those users’ friends, but public posts may also appear in the search results for relevant searches. Install the Facebook share button today – it takes just minutes to make it easy for visitors to share your content!
And, lastly, take a look at our guides to everything Facebook marketing to get answers to questions like: how to pin a post on Facebook?