How marketers can use Facebook’s Graph Search to understand consumers

Facebook’s new search product gives marketers a powerful new tool to understand their fans and customers.

Graph Search allows users to conduct complex queries about people, places, photos and interests. It begins to open up the wealth of data stored in Facebook and make it accessible to everyday users. Businesses can use this information to conduct market research about their existing fans and potential customers.

Some companies have already been mining Facebook’s Ads API for these types of insights. For instance, Optimal offers tools like “Keyword Expander” and “Audience Matrix” to let businesses dive into Facebook’s graph and gather information that can improve their marketing efforts on and off Facebook, but it charges for this service. Other marketers have tried using Facebook’s free Graph API Explorer or self-serve ad tool to get this type of data, but these were not designed to be used for this purpose and are not as intuitive for less advanced users.

Graph Search, however, uses natural language processing so any user can frame queries in a simple way. For example, “pages liked by people who like Oprah Winfrey” or “music liked by people who work at Facebook.” There are infinite permutations that could help businesses determine what type of content to share with fans, what new audience to reach out to, what type of music would resonate with consumers in a commercial, who might serve as a good celebrity endorser and more. The social network also offers suggestions for related pages and searches, which could lead marketers and advertisers to discover additional insights.

The Graph Search beta is rolling out slowly to English-speaking users. Users can request access here.