Let me Facebook that: The social network sees itself as a search engine

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by Brafton Editorial
Facebook is starting to occupy a strange place somewhere between search engine and social network.

The decline in Facebook News Feed visibility has been on marketers’ minds for most of 2014, but the social network itself hasn’t directly addressed the issue, aside from announcing a small business marketing boot camp to teach marketers about how to take advantage of Facebook ads. However, VP of Ads & Product Marketing Brian Boland recently published a lengthy blog post about the reality marketers face in light of diminishing News Feed visibility.

The biggest takeaway? Businesses should be competing on Facebook the same way they do on Google. According to Boland:

“Online search engines, for instance, provided a great deal of free traffic to businesses and websites when they initially launched. People and businesses flocked to these platforms, and as the services grew there was more competition to rank highly in search results. Because the search engines had to work much harder to surface the most relevant and useful content, businesses eventually saw diminished organic reach.”

“Because the search engines had to work much harder to surface the most relevant and useful content, businesses eventually saw diminished organic reach.”

The direct comparison to regular SEO (and allusions to Google specifically) demonstrates that Facebook is prepared to present itself as a competitive source of content that marketers need to win over for visibility. This isn’t much different than what many brands were already doing, but it should make clear that search optimization tactics ought to be applied to some types of social marketing. For instance:

  • Knowledge Graphs: There isn’t a clear analogue on Facebook, but the idea behind Knowledge Graph search results are that rich media like maps, carousels and ratings stand out and draw clicks. Brands looking to accumulate referral search traffic should make their social posts dynamic and interesting. Engagement with Facebook videos has increased 25 percent since 2013, but photos can be just as enticing.
  • High-quality posts: As Brafton reported, there’s a clear directive on the part of Facebook algorithms, like Panda and Penguin on Google, to reward high-quality and in-depth content with visibility. It’s no longer enough to simply put links to blog posts on Facebook and hope that users see it. Now, brands have to think carefully about what their Facebook followers will want to read and post accordingly.

Facebook’s designs to become something closer to a pure search engine might not fully get off the ground. The Graph Search it announced last year hasn’t been as successful as the network might have hoped. Nevertheless, Facebook is increasingly becoming an essential for businesses, and showing up in News Feeds is an important part of participating on the network.

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