Due to the main professional social network not meeting our expectations on several fronts, there’s a growing interest in sourcing on Facebook. As many people are already aware, the Graph search is “officially” gone but still exists in the back-end. @TheBalazs has two great posts on using Graph search:
Most of these techniques continue to work, though some ways to figure out Facebook IDs are gone.
Here is a write-up on how to search on Facebook for employees of a company and for people with a given job title. Be warned though, that Facebook search is far from being precise, meaning:
- Depending on the search, Facebook may decide to include synonyms, and we don’t have a “verbatim” option to stop it from doing that.
- Facebook won’t return “all” results on most searches; we will likely get representative results. (Of course, that is true for Google searches as well).
Facebook Graph searches exist in two formats: 1) searching by strings and 2) searching by Facebook IDs. For job titles and company names you can, quite often, use both ways to search, and will often (but not always) get different results. In some cases (but not always) searching by IDs is more precise, meaning that there’s less interpretation compared to searching by strings.
The formats for searching by strings and IDs look like this:
- (string search) company = IBM Finland
- (string search) title= QA Analyst
- (ID search) company = Cisco
- (ID search) title = Registered Nurse
Note, also, that some job titles and companies have more than one ID to choose from, and we’ll get different results for different IDs. (Try searching for Quality Control as a job title, for example, and you’ll see). On the other hand, some job titles won’t have IDs; for example, there is no ID for a Sourcer – in those cases searching by string is the only option.
Shane McCuscker’s popular Facebook search tool constructs “searching by string” queries.
Search is Back! by Michael Morgenstern provides a mix between searching by strings and by IDs. Michael’s tool has a good-sized database of company, title, and school IDs in the back-end, but it doesn’t provide many existing IDs (providing “any” ID is probably an impossible task anyway).
If you want to search by IDs yourself and need to find them for that purpose, here is how to do that. Pages on Facebook fall into two categories. The first kind has the ID as part of the URL – those pages are usually auto-created by Facebook (sometimes copying the content from Wikipedia). Examples:
The second type is “man-made” pages that don’t have the ID as part of the page; examples:
When you are looking for an ID to use, there are two steps: finding the page and finding the ID.
To find the page representing a title or company, you can just search in the FB search box and narrow to “pages”. Or, you can search in the Pages Directory. Or, you can search this way: https://www.facebook.com/search/more?q=keywords (replace keywords with your terms).
If the resulting page URL contains the ID, you are done!
If it doesn’t, you can look the ID up in the HTML source code (search for page_id=). Or, you can use any tool that provides Facebook IDs based on URLs (they usually say they find “your” ID, but they do work for any page).
Once you have the ID, replace the number 4 in this URL by the ID to find people with given titles or working at a given company:
For a deep dive into Sourcing on Facebook, check out the upcoming Webinar on Social Sourcing on May 11th, with optional hands-on practice on the 12th. As always, we provide a month of support to help everyone practice.
Great post and timely given the surge of interest in Facebook sourcing. Perhaps I can clarify the function of my Facebook tool that you referred to. It does use string searching but it also allows searching by ID. Not only that, it provides a useful, although perhaps mot that obvious, a way to quickly look up the IDs you want to search by.
For example, if you want to search for the members of a particular Facebook group then you go to that group and click the button to open the search tool. If you now select the group search option, you’ll see the name of this group in the drop down list. When you use this search, it uses the ID of that group.
The same technique works for finding friends of specific people. This is a search technique that I do not believe is available as a string search option.
I hope this helps.