Talent Acquisition

How to Use Facebook Graph Search [Noob Edition]

When Facebook Graph Search was announced, I was excited for my recruiting friends and a little bit worried that people might be frustrated by it. In the past, when Facebook has implemented a change, most of my friends have gone up in arm; but not my recruiting pals – for the most part, recruiting folk are more interested in what NEW things we can do with shifting software and Graph Search is no different.

Within a few days of my receipt of Graph Search, I hadn’t even taken the requisite “tour” that Facebook was prompting at the top if my page, when I realized that several of my smart friends had already written some great posts on Facebook…and I hadn’t even tried it yet. So I’d obviously missed the boat on writing the authoritative guide on Facebook Graph Search but what about the Newbie’s Guide to Facebook? Surely, since I am a marketer and not a recruiter (anymore), I would be the ideal gal to lay down the DOs and DON’Ts of FBGS.

1) DO use Facebook Graph Search to target better

Graph Search is the ultimate in finding out what your friends like and don’t like. Now this has some amazing implications for recruiters. For example, you can search friends of yours that work at Microsoft. Or friends of (fill in name) that work at Microsoft and went to Northwestern and live in Redmond and are married….yeah you can. When you have this option, you can learn quite a lot about the population you’re targeting. Business2Community says:

Graph search is more micro-based in which businesses and Facebook users could use it to understand the interests, the activities and other demographics of their fans or friends, much better; and by knowing more about your targeted consumers, businesses can therefore create better strategies in marketing to their consumers via Facebook Graph Search.

2) DON’T assume it’s a LinkedIn killer

As SocialMediaToday points out:

For Graph Search to be relevant, users will need to fill out their profiles as completely as possible including career titles, current company, professional interests, etc. How many people actually have a fully-updated Facebook profile with all of their professional work experience and interests?

While that MAY be true, don’t count it out. A lot more people are on Facebook now than LinkedIn and it’s way more user-friendly for your average job seeker. The one thing that may kill its threat? The fact that no one really wants to censor themselves.

3) DO realize its affect on PPC ads for Facebook

You already can’t really use Facebook for the total amount of people available in a given metro with a specific set of skills when pricing out ad campaigns. Same goes for graph search. If people don’t give you the info, says Glen Cathey, you can’t use it as search parameters.

Do you think that the accountants on Facebook who live in the Alpharetta area just don’t put their work experience on their profile, or that they hide the info from being retrieved by people other than their friends? I’d argue the former at this point. Keep in mind that this issue not only affects search, it also affects advertising. You can’t use Facebook PPC ads to target people who don’t give you critical information to target.

He sees the fact that Facebook returns fewer results as a bad thing, but I am guessing that it probably isn’t necessarily. Being able to tap into  a more highly selective list appeals to the marketer in me.

4) DON’T call it a professional networking site

Facebook is what it is. Vague statement to be sure, but on purpose because that’s what makes Facebook’s Platform so overtly successful, it is what you want it to be. Using it for job search? Great, fill in your history. Building out a family reunion group? Have at it. Want to post your duck face pics? Well….okay then. Work4Labs Stephane Le Viet puts it this way in his article delineating the journey from social to professional:

The foundation was laid with the creation of brand and “Timeline for Business” pages. These gave Facebook’s users a chance to becomeconsumers by publicly declaring their affiliation with companies using the “like” button. The trend continued with the release of Sponsored Stories and targeted ads. With these, Facebook’s consumersbecame passive candidates, since employers can now suggest jobs to consumers whose browsing habits and profile data align with the categories defined by the company. If Hard Rock Cafe is looking for employees to fill a new outlet in Tokyo, for example, they can target young Tokyo residents who like Rock N’ Roll.

For the newbies

And what about for the newbies? Well here are some DOs and DON’Ts from my personal experience:

  • DO use Graph Search to find things when Facebook moves them around on you. Now I know where everything is, I just type: “videos of NAME posted by me” and it pulls them up!
  • DO use it to find friends that are all in one city for fast simple networking (and also to make sure you aren’t inviting out of towners to your events, AHEM). Simply type in “friends of mine who live in CITY”. One caveat: it pulls up anyone even BORN there.
  • DON’T think you can ignore it. Facebook Graph Search will be important to recruiters and therefore it has to be important to job seekers, therefore it has to be important to recruiter….see where I’m going with this?

If you’re a recruiter looking for candidates, you see the value in mining these results. If you’re a jobseeker looking for work, you probably see the value of showing up in these results. On the other hand, most recruiters already screen candidates through Google and LinkedIn, and you can bet the same critical eye will turn toward Graph Search results.

By Maren Hogan

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, a consultancy offering marketing strategy and content development.