Facebook Graph Search: Identify Customers You Don't Want
Facebook Graph Search, the highly anticipated search tool within the social network, is rolling out over the next few weeks. There are the inevitable questions about privacy, as people might be surprised at what others can learn about them.
And--again, inevitably--businesses of all sizes and stripes will try to make use of Graph Search to advance their marketing, product development processes, and anything else where learning about customers might come in handy. With a twist, this could make a lot of sense: separate the wheat from the chaff.
Not all Facebook fans and supporters are created equal. There are those who legitimately like a brand and want to keep on top of news. Some will have liked or followed because there was some reward involved. (There are entrepreneurs who have tried to game the system and jack up the number of likes their businesses have.) You can also find plenty of people who will "like" almost anything and everything for no particularly significant reason.
The people who sincerely like your company and brand are important customers. The others? Not so much. But Facebook now gives you some tools to start to know the difference... and to make use of it through a few basic steps:
- Identify which of your likers are real customers--Search for "people who like [your business name]." Now check those people, and the information available about them, against your customer list. Either you'll see that someone is a customer and has liked your page or that the person either isn't a customer or you can't tell whether he or she is a customer. (The latter is important information to have.)
- Collect a list of non-customers who like your page--It doesn't have to be exhaustive, but you want a good number of people who like your page but have never done business with you.
- Figure out which ones came from a game-the-system campaign--You want to be able to tell which of these were interested in freebies or a reward but weren't interested in doing business.
- Look for common traits--Once you know who the freeloaders are, start your analysis. For individuals, ask such questions as what books, movies, types of music, foods, places, or other things people like.
Maybe there will be obvious common themes, or it might be that the similarities won't be in what receives the objects of affections but other factors, like the number of things they like. There isn't going to be a standard quick path to an answer, but the tool will give you some insight into who interacts with your page. That will only improve as eventually Graph Search will be able to search posts, status updates, and comments.
The more you know about the people who sincerely like your brand and those that don't, the more easily you can distinguish between them and adjust your marketing to better avoid the ones that will take and take but never give in return.
ERIK SHERMAN | Columnist
Erik Sherman's work has appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, and Fortune. He also blogs for CBS MoneyWatch.