See you later, Facebook Data

See you later, Facebook Data

Search aint here to stay.

Some big changes are coming to Facebook – and even though most users won’t notice them for a some time to come, they represent a big shift in attitude for Facebook, and will change the way brands work with content and communities on Facebook, too.

The short

Facebook is shutting down access to the hashtag and post search components of the Graph API from April 30. Simply put, brands will no longer be able to access individual user content through Facebook search, or any third-party tools like Radian6, Tint or Stackla that access the API.

You will still be able to access content posted on your wall, or that tags/mentions the page directly, but wider access is being deprecated.

The long

Everyone knows Facebook has incredibly high usage numbers, with as many as 95% of Australian’s on social media using it every week. Those users produce an incredible amount of content is produced by its users, with Facebook stating that, on average, 350 million photo uploads globally every day.

In an effort to provide access to this data, Facebook created a function inside its Graph API that allowed users, brands and third parties to search for particular keywords and hashtags in posts. This spawned services such as Graph Search, and also enabled aggregation services like Tint to integrate with Facebook produced content.

At F8 last year, Facebook announced a round of large changes to the Graph API. Alongside the search changes, login privacy and app access has been rethought, requiring more explicit permissions from users. Tomorrow, on April 30, those changes come into affect as Graph API v2 is rolled out.

That means no more hashtag search, no more content search, and less access to the data of individual people. This reflects Facebook’s wider attitude of “People First, Mobile Best“, which turns the focus back on to a good user experience for Facebook’s most important asset: people.

What’s next for brands? 

Screen Shot 2015-04-29 at 4.30.00 pm

Realistically, this means content aggregators such as Stackla and Tint have lost their least intrusive  method of collecting content from the large user base that lives, and creates content on, Facebook. While Facebook pages are still open ground,  this means no more easy broad UGC campaigns that plug into Facebook.

From Stackla:

Content aggregated using Facebook Search terms until now will be preserved, and existing terms will be deactivated by Stackla over the month of April.

We are working closely with Facebook to further improve the results for Facebook Pages Term Types, and hope to offer new Term types in the future. 

The recommended alternative to aggregating Facebook content is to set up Terms via Facebook Pages. Set up a Facebook Page aggregation term and remember to Capture Fan Wall posts made to Facebook Pages

For those who use third party tools such as Radian6 for listening and trend analyses, some of the richer media available on Facebook will no longer be available.

Social listening tool Nuvi have announced a partnership with Datasift, that will allow them to continue providing Facebook data analytics through “anonymous and aggregated access to Facebook Topic data”.

Facebook topic data is anonymous and aggregated content data about specific activities, events, brand names, and other subjects that people are sharing on Facebook, giving marketers a deeper understanding into audience insights.

Most likely this plugs into Facebook’s media solutions API – a way to get brush stroke understanding of conversation and audience, without the more granular examples some people might be used to.

Will this affect your plans for Facebook?