Business Matters: How Facebook Search Could Provide Cheap Market Research for Music Marketers

Facebook's Graph Search, introduced Tuesday at a press event in California and rolled out to a limited number of users, doesn't have a lot of obvious music uses but could end up being a free and useful tool for music marketers.

Graph Search, or Facebook Search as it is likely to become known, is a tool for finding information about places and friends through Facebook's 1 trillion connections between people, places and things. It could disrupt location services like Yelp, whose stock tumbled as much as 8.6% over Tuesday and Wednesday following the debut of Graph Search, but doesn't have much overlap with the information indexed by Google.

But Graph Search could end up being a fairly useful tool for music marketers to get a general sense of the likes and interests of a particular group of fans. As the Inside Facebook blog points out, the search tool provides an opportunity for businesses to conduct market research about specific groups of fans for free.

Here's an example: You could search for "Bands liked by people who like Bruno Mars." That might not be very helpful to marketers or executives trying to secure specific brand partnerships, but it would be very helpful to search for Bruno Mars fans that like certain consumer product brands, wireless carriers and alcoholic beverage companies (all are the types of companies to sponsor tours). Or the search could look for followers of a particular activity or interest. Graph Search will even narrow the search results down to specific cities (and, one would assume, countries).
The results from these queries won't provide the kind of detailed information in a cross-tabulated format provided by large market research firms like Nielsen and NPD Group. Nor would they offer the insight provided by a social media intelligence firm like Optimal. But Facebook Graph Search will be free and it appears to be very easy to use. Anybody, from an executive down to an intern, could benefit from using Graph Search when numbers are needed to help gut instinct.