What is in this article?:
- How Facebook's Graph Search could affect restaurants
- Not quite a Yelp killer
Operators, marketers debate whether the new search feature could overtake Yelp
Not quite a Yelp killer
Experts and operators have speculated that if users successfully find new restaurants in Graph Search, the tool could become competitive with other online services such as traditional search engines or Yelp.com.
“Social Graph’s ability to use people-centered information rather than mere SEO terms engenders trust between Facebook users based on likes,” Jitendra Gupta, chief executive of mobile-loyalty firm Punchh, wrote in a recent blog post. “In other words, if my graph of Facebook friends likes these restaurants, then I may trust its suggestions more than those from a search engine.”
He added, however, that Social Graph might aggregate which restaurants have the most likes among a user’s friends, but could neglect “richer customer data such as details of actual restaurant visits and opinions about food and service.”
The fact that Graph Search results would be displayed only within Facebook and would not get aggregated by external search engines like Google or Bing means that Graph Search likely would have a long way to go before seriously blunting the influence of Yelp, Arnold said.
“Search within Facebook is only within Facebook, so that’s kind of the downside,” she said. “Today, when we search, it’s likely on Google or Yahoo, and nothing within Facebook plays into that. If I Google Culver’s, the Yelp review comes up much higher than the link to the Facebook page [in search results].
“I don’t think Graph Search is going to overtake Yelp,” she continued, “unless Facebook opens their capability up to outside search — which I don’t think will happen — or we all go to Facebook for searching.”
Milwaukee restaurateur Sorge was more optimistic that many customers would eventually use Social Graph to find restaurants — and trust their friends far more than anonymous Yelp reviewers.
“The relief from a ‘Yelp effect’ is probably true, but the best part about Graph Search is if you’re in a city where you know some people but you’re not from there, now there’s direct word-of-mouth instead of just Yelp reviews,” Sorge said.
Sorge projected that when Facebook likely opens up Graph Search down the road to brands for opportunities for paid search results, he could seed Graph Search results to reach a very specific audience.
“If I came up with a new bacon burger and bought a Graph Search result, I could reach people who like AJ Bombers and like bacon,” he said. “I spend money on Facebook ads every month to promote posts and increase our audience and likes. I absolutely see the value in Facebook advertising, so making it more relevant and content-specific with Graph Search makes me want to use it more.”
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