What Medical Practices Need To Know about Facebook’s Graph Search

Doctors: you should buy Facebook stock now. With the price down 20% since the IPO, they need to validate their advertising model. And guess who they’re targeting to help fuel the turnaround? You!

The least you can do is share in the profit.

Facebook’s new product, called Graph Search, wants to make Facebook the first place people turn when they’re looking for a doctor. And, if history is a guide, you’re going to have to participate or risk becoming invisible.

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Graph Search 101

On January 15th, Facebook unveiled Graph Search, which indexes everything people do on the Facebook and lets users make sense of it through search. As Mark Zuckerberg said at the press event, “Facebook is a living database of the content and stories of people’s lives. Like any database, you should be able to query it.”

Graph Search

With Graph Search, Facebook wants to be more than a place you go to keep in touch with people – it wants to become a place where you meet new people (and find businesses) based on shared interests and connections. The product has been covered in depth in a variety of places. To find out more, I recommend these links:

How To Find a Doctor on Facebook

While I was watching the press event (unglamorously on YouTube), I was wondering if I could make a connection to digital health. To my surprise, they made it for me.

After Mark Zuckerberg set the stage, two of the creators of Graph Search – Lars Rasmussen, Director of Engineering, and Tom Stocky, Director of Product Management – led a product demonstration, walking through the four key searchable types of content: people, photos, places and interests. When they got to “places”, Lars told the story of how he found a dentist using Graph Search.

I’ve posted the clip here:

Will My Practice Appear in Graph Search?

It seems simple: prospective patients search for doctors that their friends use, and then make their selection based on information they find in the results (which doctor has the most likes, which friends have the most credibility, etc).

But there are table stakes to playing: you have to have a business page for your practice, people have to “like” it, and fans have to engage with you through actions such as comments, shares, photo tags, check-ins, etc. Facebook has published a tutorial for Helping People Discover your Business through Graph Search.

If you’re practice isn’t already on Facebook, make sure to first understand what you’re getting in to – it’s a commitment that comes with risks and rewards. There’s a lot out there on this topic, and a few good resouces are:

But Where Will My Practice Show Up in Search Results?

This is where it gets interesting…and expensive:

  • You’re going to need “likes” to show up in search results, and what’s the most effective way to get likes? Buy Facebook ads.
  • You’re going to need people to engage with your page. But Facebook hides most brand posts from peoples’ newsfeed because it creates clutter (they do this through their EdgeRank algorithm). How do you get your posts noticed? Buy “Promoted Posts.”
  • And you’ll want to show up in search results for people who live in your area but don’t have a direct connection to you. How do you do that? Buy “Sponsored Results” placements.

After you’re done buying all those products, don’t forget to buy the stock as well.

Coming in 3, 2, 1: Black Hat Graph Search

Like Spy vs. Spy, the search world is divided into two factions: good (white hat) and bad (black hat). That world is coming to Graph Search, and it’s going to come right away.

Search is big business (Google banked $20M in search revenue in the first half of 2012, more than the entire print industry combined) and it’s hyper-competitive. Companies large and small want to win at any cost. The JC Penny scandal is a great primer.

So when some little medical practice shows up with more likes than your town has people, you’ll know how that happened.


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