With Facebook now improving their search function, it appears that the fight between the two tech giants is intensifying as they tussle over market share for one of the most profitable arms of Google’s business - search.
In one corner you have the search king and in the other, the social media ruler - both giants in their respective areas. Recently however, the line between these two territories have started to blur.
Google ventured into the social media scene with Google Plus in 2011, and now Facebook is making moves to bite off chunks of the search engine pie.
This can only mean one thing: more opportunities for both businesses and customers when it comes to using the social media platform. Increasingly, users are tapping their social networks rather than the wider internet for useful information. With an improved search function, it’ll be much easier for Facebook users to tap those networks to locate the content they need.
Facebook users will benefit from the new and improved search feature. Want to visit that cafe your friend shared on your timeline two months ago? No problem, just pull the post out from the vast trove of information on your page with this function.
So what can businesses do to capitalize on this emerging trend?
1. Create shareable content
As a general trend, people are abandoning original content sources and content aggregators in favor of Facebook and other social media platforms.
In fact, blogs and content sources have morphed into a mature part of the publishing ecosystem. Readers now look to their social network to filter out irrelevant news, choosing to focus only on those shared and reposted.
Most of the time, content creators publish articles on blogs (or front sites), but look to social media to promote the piece, riding on social sharing to drive traffic back to the source.
As such, it is no longer enough to just produce relevant articles, your content has to be shareable as well.
If users start to rely more on the search function within Facebook, you need to make all the content produced by your organization shareable.
For example, add sharing buttons around the content you publish, write content that triggers intense emotion. Use incentives to encourage people to share content that might inspire discussion or debate among the readers. There are many, many ways to do this.
The end goal is to create content that consumers can - and will want to - update Facebook statuses with. High quality, shareable content is also more likely to get posted to Tumblr, tweeted, pinned to boards, posted to Reddit, Instagrammed, and published on Medium.
2. Mobile optimization
Facebook’s new search upgrade is specifically designed to work well on mobile, an area where Facebook is already considered king.
If the improved search function works well, more of its users might be inclined to search there rather than to head to Google, especially on their phones.
So when readers click on a piece of content on their mobile phones and get redirected to your front site, for example, they’ll expect a mobile optimized website.
Mobile expression demands the short form. So bring on whatever that is quick and easily digestible.
The importance of mobile as a new sales channel has been slow to catch on but with this upcoming upgrade on Facebook, businesses can no longer ignore the potential of mobile sales.
With last year’s Hummingbird update, even Google has acknowledged that the future of search is mobile. Websites that aren’t usable on handheld devices will see their search rank suffer for it.
As a first step to optimizing your business for mobile users, you need to decide between focusing on a native mobile app or a mobile responsive site for your business. We have discussed the debate in an article here before. Essentially, your decision should be based on the kind of traffic you want to attract and the function the application or website will serve.
3. Omnichannel management
The Internet has changed the balance of power between companies and consumers. With the advent of social media and citizen journalism, brands no longer have complete control over the information that gets disseminated, shared, and viewed by consumers.
Consumers now use multiple channels to engage with a single brand before making their purchase decision. For instance, they might search for product reviews online, check out items on mobile applications, ask for recommendations and consult their social network on Facebook - all before they make a final purchase.
In addition, social media creates not just a new marketing dialogue between the brand and consumers, it brings forth a powerful rationale for companies to partner with the rising tide of customers who now demand new standards for corporate behavior and a higher commitment to purpose, not just profit.
With Facebook improving its search function, it will soon become a fantastic channel on which discussions about products and brands can take place among consumers. You will need to integrate Facebook into your communications and omnichannel management strategy.
Tap onto the medium (or even social media in general) to amplify brand marketing, to renew, scale, and accelerate connections between your organization and customers.
Facebook’s new search engine function presents new ways for businesses to interact with customers and reshape their mode of communication. The three suggestions listed in this article are in no way exhaustive. The opportunities are endless.