By Heleana Quartey, Digital Strategist, LEWIS PR
When Facebook first launched its new social search functionality Graph Search the blogosphere immediately began to analyse its impact on social business – from increasing the value of likes to incentivizing location-based marketing through check-ins. Of equal, if not greater, importance however is the fact that content – engaging content that tells stories and drives social actions – could be what makes or breaks a company’s success on Facebook going forward. Facebook itself has even suggested this – with a host of tips on how to make your page more discoverable.
Because Graph creates a bespoke ‘social web’ search for information based on the recommendations of people users know, content needs to encourage not only likes and check-ins, but repeated engagement, conversation and sharing. This, especially now, is a challenge, given recent reports by SocialBakers that showed Facebook in the UK losing 600,000 active users late last year.
If the network is reaching saturation point – which is what some voices are suggesting – how do brands drive community growth and engagement, especially when the average user likes 80 pages? As attention is spread across an ever-widening network of products, services and experiences, there will be pressure for those in the business of content marketing to raise the bar. It seems almost inevitable that the days of the Condescending Corporate Brand Page (that creates mediocre or spammy content in a bid to harvest likes) are numbered.
So what about social search elsewhere? In Marketing Magazine, Marvin Chow, global marketing director at Google+, publicly dismissed Graph Search, highlighting the benefits of Google+ in terms of its ability to connect the social web and community recommendations to search results. His view was that:
‘Our goal has never been to create this single destination where you have to go and consume social and then leave, [because] it should be there when you need it.’
So if Google+ already links use of its profile and +1’s to better search results and the company’s bullish vision is to support the increase of engagement on this platform in the future, it stands to reason that now is also the time to create (or indeed bolster) complementary content marketing strategies for both the ‘open’ (Google) and ‘closed’ Facebook web, as well as to ask yourself key questions:
- What are you doing to encourage +1’s for your business?
- Do your customers or stakeholder even know how to engage with Google+?
These considerations will of course be less relevant for B2B companies that are not ‘tech-driven’ in some way. However, even if your brand has its main community on LinkedIn or Twitter rather than Facebook and Google+, the continued demise of print media circulation numbers and an increased need for brands to tell their own stories – namely brand journalism – is likely to make Bill Gates’ prediction that content ‘will again become king’, come true.