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Facebook Graph Search: Monkeying Around Reveals Precious Marketing Gems

Guest blogger, social media maven, and bacon enthusiast Amy Vernon shares with aimClear blog some preliminary experiments she performed as Facebook Graph Search rolled out…

Within moments of activating Graph Search, I was trying to figure out what the heck to search for. All the fun searches seemed to have been done already and documented on Tumblr.

I did search for people who liked punk rock and prostitutes; I’m not even really sure why. It seemed like the logical thing to do. (There are many people who come up in that search, by the way.)

So I decided to do something shocking: Search for something that might help a friend. And, by extension, a lot of other people.

Jennifer Stauss Windrum is founder of SMAC! Monkeys Against Cancer, a “gang of philanthropic monkeys that provides tangible support to those battling cancer – reminding them no one fights it alone.”

Basically, when you buy a SMAC! sock monkey, a second is given to someone with cancer (or, your original monkey also can be donated, if you so desire). Additional money raised goes toward cancer research. Jennifer launched the project with an extremely successful crowdfunding campaign on Start Some Good, which became funded just before her own mother died after a long battle with lung cancer. (Not that it should matter, but no, she never smoked a day in her life.)

I started fiddling around on Graph Search, sharing my screen with Jennifer, so she could see what I was doing and figure out if it could have any use for someone like herself. Almost to our surprise, we found ourselves getting kind of excited over some of the ways Graph Search could be used.

We started out looking at it purely as a way to refine Facebook ad targeting, checking out other pages liked by people who like Jennifer’s SMAC! page on Facebook. Not a wholly surprising list – - many were biggies such as Amazon, Target, George Takei, Chase Community Giving. Others more closely related, such as Breast Cancer Awareness and Stupid Cancer.

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Jennifer and I discussed these results and came to the conclusion that there was only so much weight we could put in any of these, right off the bat.

“I do worry about the value Facebook places on a ‘like,’” she said. “I know I have liked many pages in the past, for a variety of reasons, but it doesn’t mean I spend time on that page, or even allow it to show up in my own newsfeed. So, I think you really need to dig deep and continue to ‘refine’ your searches to find that right fit for potential advertising on a specific page.”

As an example, we refined further and added only people who had the title “Chief Executive Officer” or “CEO” in their profiles and liked the Breast Cancer Awareness page.

A wholly different set of pages came up as the likes. Interesting. Was that as a result of the different page that was liked? As a result of the CEO in the title? More testing, searching would be necessary. But maybe now we were getting somewhere.

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“As a startup, with e-commerce as my primary sales platform, and social media a large part of my comprehensive marcom strategy, I have limited time, resources and budget,” Jennifer explained. “I do love the ability to have this vast database at my fingertips and opportunity to finally research it using a variety of filters. The more I can play around with Graph Search, the deeper I can dig, the better I can determine if/where to spend advertising dollars.”

While Breast Cancer Awareness is focused on a very specific type of cancer, the Stupid Cancer page attracts a broader cross-section of people and might be more applicable to the SMAC! model. So we looked at CEOs who liked the Stupid Cancer page.

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Then the light bulb went off.

The first result was someone in “Digital Philanthropy” at a hospital. Exactly the kind of person Jennifer should connect with.  Another one of the top results was a woman who’s CEO of an online philanthropy site.

Any and all of these people, because of their status as heads of companies, was a potential contact for Jennifer. But some were such perfect fits – people who might have been much harder to find by other means.

“This is what excites me,” Jennifer said. “I see potential for advertising, but, right now, even greater value for targeted outreach to key people who may greatly influence my business.”

And Jennifer sees value in the potential of Graph Search beyond fundraising, sponsorship and advertising opportunities, too.

“Let’s say I want to hold a SMAC!-down – an in-person get-together of the SMAC community, but I need to figure out where it makes sense to hold it – a city where a lot of SMAC!-ers live,” she said. “I can easily punch that info into Graph Search and voila. Sure, I could probably do this before Graph Search, but I honestly wouldn’t even attempt due to the amount of time. I can easily see me being a lot more proactive and more strategic in my planning now that I can better segment my messaging and activities.”

While this is exciting news for people in marketing, public relations, advertising, fundraising and other fields, Jennifer still sees the creepy, intrusive side of Graph Search.

“From purely a business perspective, I am excited to be able to cut through the ‘big blob’ that is Facebook and bring some meaning and context to its users,” she said. “On the other hand, not everyone is like me. Most people aren’t. Those who use Facebook casually have no clue what Graph Search will pull up from their accounts. They have no way to opt out and have really not had much warning to ‘clean up’ their accounts, if they wanted.”

About the Author:

Amy Vernon is General Manager of Social Marketing for NYC tech startup Internet Media Labs. She spent 20 years writing and editing for newspapers and now peruses, curates and contributes to the flood of information on the internet. You can blame her for all the bacon.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily those of aimClear LLC or aimClear Blog.

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