Forget the rest, it’s time to focus on the best. Or at least the biggest, by more than a country mile. No network comes close to Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild in terms of potential reach, everyone knows that. But, with changes to functionality and privacy tools, along with falling user figures, we could all benefit from an update.
Of course it’s not entirely bad news. Facebook remains unarguably popular with most social media users. However, it’s certainly worth noting that the platform actually lost members towards the end of 2012. Furthermore, share prices- which have been problematic since it floated on the stock market- fell by no less than 3%, betraying a slow down in overall growth, not to mention the controversy surrounding one particularly divisive new addition.
Graph Search seems like a good idea, and is certainly impressive in scope- allowing you to search for pretty much anything. Looking to find out which bars in Manchester have been frequented most by your followers? No problem. Perhaps you need a picture of loyal customers in a specific location? Easy. It’s just a shame so many people are now concerned about their privacy.
In truth it’s not surprising, because in addition to searching those you know it’s also possible to scour by common interest. For example, ‘People who like engaging in [enter obscure activity]’. As technology website Venture Beat pointed out earlier this month, users should now be pro-active in deleting any content that could potentially cause problems “before Facebook’s Graph Search embarrasses you.??? Or worse.
From a branding perspective it’s a different story. This new concept offers so much potential in terms of targeted digital marketing and PR, giving us the ability to gain an excellent insight into what other interests are common amongst company fans. Take a look at Tom Scott’s Tumblr blog, Actual Facebook Graph Searches, if you don’t believe us- he has posted results to queries ranging from ‘Married people who also like prostitutes’ and ‘Current employers of people who like racism’, to ‘Current Tesco employees who like Horses’.
That said, it’s also now easier for people to understand exactly what their privacy settings mean, so many people will take full advantage of the speed with which others can now be blocked, improved clarity as to who can see what, and, significantly, how their overall profile looks to the public. As such, brands need to be acutely aware of what’s irritating, and what’s interesting to the public (and by that we don’t just mean ‘People who like the English Defence League and curry’).
The network has also taken steps to improve its advertising offering, with the Conversion Tracking Tool designed to make it easier for any firm to understand the ROI from Facebook ads and sponsored stories. The idea being for organisations to reduce and maximise costs. For the likes of online retailer Fab.com, amongst the fastest growing businesses of its kind in the world, this certainly seems to have worked, with expenditure after using the Conversion Tracking Tool apparently 39% lower per new customer acquisition. Like everything else we’ve mentioned, it’s one aspect of the world’s favourite network businesses can ill-afford to ignore, even if there are signs of an ongoing backlash.