Last Monday Facebook rolled out its newest tool, Graph Search, to the hundreds of millions of U.S. users and others who use the “American English” version. (Other languages and demographics are going to follow quickly.)

Why would Facebook make yet another change, some ask? The answer is simple.

Facebook Graph Search is critical to its continuing relevance and success.

It has a two-pronged goal – enrich engagement from its users as well as drive more advertising dollars.

Facebook has claimed that its 1.1 billion global users posted 3.3 million new items every minute in May. (Whoa!!)

How to possibly makes sense of all this mountain of data in a way that is easily accessible to users?

Enter Graph Search.

How it works: Facebook analyzes the pages that you like, the places that you have checked into, your information section, where you live, your relationship status and any other information you have volunteered.

Type in “Friends who like art” and you will find friends who have liked a page designated in the “art” category. Or type in “friends of my friends who like art” and the results will expand further.

Graph Search lets you search on several search terms at once to get more specific, relevant results.

Note: Graph Search takes into account individual privacy settings. So if a friend of a friend searches for Buddhists in Boston who like to do yoga, the search will only pull up those Boston Buddhist yogis who have publicly disclosed that they “like” each thing.

So what does that mean for you? Here are 5 ways that Facebook’s Graph Search will help nonprofit organizations.

**1) ** **You can now easily conduct research on your supporters**.

SHIFT Communications was looking for the best place to advertise to reach its target market.

It used Graph Search to find fans that liked SHIFT and also liked one of three publications: Better Homes & Gardens, Forbes and Sports Illustrated.

A search for “People who like Forbes and SHIFT Communications” brought back 31 pages of results, and gave them the information that they needed to make a good decision on where to spend advertising dollars.

Graph Search can work like a mini-focus group: Find out what the people who Like your organization also Like – this will help you make deeper connections and create more engaging content.

**2) ****You can get more Likes. **

Everyone wants more Likes. But how to get them?

Graph Search may help by making your Page easier to find. It takes into account the keywords in your Page’s About section, plus the categories that you have chosen for your Page.

Make sure that all the information on your Page is accurate, up-to-date and spelled correctly. Use key words that people would normally use when searching for your nonprofit.

**3) ****You can increase exposure to new people who have never heard of you. **

If you use Facebook Graph Search for “My friends who like animals”, it will pull up the other things that your friends Like in the results.

This will be a great tool to help people discover new Pages to Like – ones that they may have never heard of.

**4) ****Your old content can be found again – especially photos. **

I am most excited about this feature. Make sure to go back and appropriately caption, tag and add locations to each photo that you have ever uploaded to your Page.

Accurate tagging and labeling of photos will increase the chances of your nonprofit’s Page coming up when someone searches “Photos of Beverly”, for example (if you’ve ever had events or taken photos in Beverly).

The person searching might be someone who already likes your Page, but reminding these supporters of the good work you are doing consistently is always great to continuing engagement.

**5) ****You can showcase your events. **

Facebook has said that events will have a prominent place in Graph Search, so pay attention to headlines, location, key words and details to make sure they are descriptive.

In conclusion, there are a myriad of ways that Facebook Graph Search can be useful to your nonprofit and your online community.

Facebook has stated plans to expand Graph Search to index status updates, mobile apps and third-party applications like Yelp and Instagram.

The geniuses behind Zuckerberg are even experimenting with something called “predictions” – suggesting Pages that you may like based on what you already do like. Brilliant!

*Are you using Graph Search? Do you find it useful? Why or why not? *

photo credit: Marc_Smith via photopin cc

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What I would love is writing about how to use Graph Search – FB’s own Help on the subject refers to their developer page. How does a small nonprofit with no developer on staff access Graph Search and use it?

Author

Graph Search is very new and has only been available to US Facebook users for about a week now. It’s free to access with a Facebook account. As I suggested in my post, I think nonprofits can use it to conduct research on their Facebook fans to see what else they like, and to conduct research on similar nonprofits in the area, and funders potentially.

Some really cool uses for Facebook Graph search for nonprofits.