6 Things Travel Companies Should Know About Facebook’s New Graph Search
Today, Facebook rolled out a new feature called “Facebook Graph Search“. Mark Zuckerberg sees this new feature as the third pillar of Facebook, next to News Feed and Timeline. This new feature will help users in mapping out relationships with people they are connected (or not connected too). Facebook calls this mapping as ‘Graph’. Users will be able to do a natural language search on this relationship mapping, hence the name – Facebook Graph Search.
Graph search bar will appear at the top of every page you navigate to in Facebook. You will be able to search in natural language, meaning – plain English.
Right now, Facebook allows to search for below four categories, we’ve quoted few example searches:
- Friends who live in my city
- People from my hometown who like Six flags
- People named Jennifer
- My friends who have been to Yosemite National Park
- Hotel revenue managers who live in Boston and like accounting
- People who like things I like
- People who like adventure travel and live nearby
- Photos I like
- Photos of my family
- Photos of my friends before 1990
- Photos of my friends taken in London
- Photos of the Eiffel Tower
- Restaurants in California
- Cities visited by my family
- Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India
- Tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends
- Restaurants in New York liked by chefs
- Countries my friends have visited
- Music my friends like
- Movies liked by people who like movies I like
- Languages my friends speak
- Strategy games played by friends of my friends
- Movies liked by people who are film directors
- Books read by CEOs
Facebook is rolling out Graph Search today to a limited set of users. You can goto this link, scroll to the bottom of the page and request an invite (thought it might take weeks/months to get one).
Facebook is trying to do what Google has launched recently – Google Knowledge Graph. Facebook now has a billion+ people in their platform, 240 billion photos and trillion connections. They have taken the next logical step of searching this massive database of people, places and photos.
Facebook is clearly eating into the search marketshare of Google. There are a lot of things that Facebook has, that Google doesn’t have. Vice versa is true as well. One example is – Facebook page. If you are a travel company (Restaurant / Hotel / Destination Marketing / Tourism / Tour Operator etc) and you have a Facebook page, there are six things that you should be doing / knowing:
1. Experience the Graph Search video at this link
2. Advertising is going to pickup big time in Facebook. The goldmine of Facebook is going to get even better. This simply means that your PPC / Ad words budget in Google should be given a second thought.
When Facebook is asking you to pay them money to reach out to your own fans in Facebook, you can expect that they might ask you to pay them to show your company in the top search results of Facebook users.
Example: Jennifer searches for “Korean restaurants in Schaumburg, Chicago“. You might have to pay Facebook to show up your hotel ad in the search result. They might call it as “Sponsored Restaurants” [sounds familiar?]
Another reason on why you should rethink your ad words strategy – Facebook has a tie up with Microsoft’s Bing search engine since 2008. Currently, in Facebook, the search results are pulled from Bing. With the launch of Graph Search, for search queries that Facebook cannot display results from its ecosystem of profiles, it’s more likely going to display Bing search results.
So, when Facebook introduces Ads in Graph Search, and if you are spending your buck in advertising / promoting your offering in Facebook, even if your company doesn’t show up in Graph Search Results, there might be a probability for your company to be listed in Bing search results. Instead of one chance, now you have two chances.
3. EdgeRank is something that you need to really worry about. A billion+ people are going to search for ‘things’, here things could be restaurant, movie theatre, cities to visit etc. So, how do you ensure YOUR page shows up in the first page of results? Facebook might simply rank the results by its secretive Page EdgeRank.
Example: Jennifer searches for “Tourist Attractions In Egypt“, and there are 2500 pages in Facebook that directly or indirectly deal with Egypt. Facebook might simply sort the 2500 pages by its EdgeRank.
4. This is just the beginning. We definitely foresee a lot more things coming up in future. Facebook’s cashcow is advertisements. Right now they have got the restaurateurs interested. There are enough travel brands in Facebook platform and they might soon rollout features where users can do following:
- Hotels that my friends have stayed
- Hotels that at least 10 of my friends liked
- Hotels within 30 miles from my home and that has any offers
- Restaurants within 5 miles from my home and that have offers for tonight
- Restaurants within 10 miles from my home in which my friends have checked in right now
- European flights that my friends have flown in last 30 days
- Airline company status updates that my family have liked
- Airline company pictures that my son has liked
- Friends who have visited more than 10 countries in last 1 year
- Top 10 destinations / places where my friends have been in last 90 days
- Domestic airlines that have got more than 100,000 likes
- Airlines that have a Facebook app
5. A search can also be an extension of a question that people post in Facebook.
For example: Jennifer updates her status with this – “Anyone planning for a trip to Bahamas in Feb? Let me know, looking for 2 more people to join the trip. Which cruise to take?“. This is a question, in a status update.
Typically, couple of friends will comment in this status update after a week by then Jennifer would have planned her trip. This scenario now could take a different level with Graph Search. Now, Jennifer can simple search for “Friends who are planning to visit Bahamas in Feb“, “Cruiselines to take to goto Bahamas” and the search results will be instant.
6. Facebook has releases its Graph Search API to developers. We predict that new social travel startups are going to emerge. We aren’t saying that there are no social travel startups now, as a matter of fact there are plenty in market. But, there might be travel startups built with Facebook Graph search as the base engine.
With travel industry moving towards social, picture and maps, the probability of Graph Search based startup is pretty high. The recent PhoCusWright conference adds weightage to this point because its Travel Innovation Summit was heavily dominated by travel startups in pictures and maps space.
Overall Summary: Its getting very interesting to see the evolution of search engines and the way people search. Search engines have evolved from a simple text search to picture search to real-time sight search (augmented reality) to voice powered search (Siri) to semantic search (Google’s Knowledge Graph). Now, the next step is ‘relationship-based-search’. What’s next? Travel companies are never going to rest thinking that they are done with their technology strategy, new advancements like this are going to emerge every now and then to keep them busy. By the way, on an another note, Google Glass is releasing to developers this month end.
- Google Search Gets Better With Knowledge Graph – More Juice For Travellers
- What Travel Companies Should Know About Microsoft’s New Social Network – So.Cl
- Social Media Strategy Masterclass For Travel Companies
- 15 Ways In Which Travel Companies Use Social Media
- JoGuru: India Based Feature Rich Social Travel Startup