Social media search tips you may not know about for Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram

What do you do when you want to search for something online?

You probably open up Google in your Internet browser and type in your search, right?

But what if you’re in the middle of using a social network? You’d have to leave the webpage on your desktop or app on your smartphone and start your search on Google.

Social networks don’t want you to leave, so they’ve built in some helpful search tools you may not know about. In case you haven’t been using them, here are a few tips on using three social networks – Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram – to conduct a search.

Facebook Graph Search

Facebook introduced its Graph Search tool (the search bar at the top of Facebook’s desktop page or smartphone app) in 2013. It pulls information from Facebook’s big data resources – as well as your relationships, activity, and pages you like – to help you find people, pages, posts and other options based on your search query. To be honest, it’s not the easiest search tool, but once you start trying some searches, you’ll learn what types of queries Graph Search responds to in order to produce the best results.

Here’s a few examples of some things you might use Graph Search to discover:

  1. Friends who live in certain locations

If you’re traveling and wondering which of your friends live in your destination city, try using the search “friends in” and adding the city. You can see what happened when I searched for friends who live in Boston:

Facebook Graph Search Friends in Boston

  1. Friends who work at a business

If you’re job searching, networking, or trying to do business with another business, you may want to try finding out who you know who works at the business to get your foot in the door. Try this search: “my friends who work at” and the name of the business. Here’s my search for friends who work at my former employer, Fitchburg State University:

Facebook Graph Search Friends Who Work At.png

  1. Friends who like a Facebook page

Let’s say you like a business page of a new restaurant, but you haven’t gone there yet and you want to know how good the food is. Or you like a business page and have a question about its return policy. You might want to check with friends who are familiar with the business. Enter these search terms: my friends who like” and the name of the business. This is what happens when I search for my friends who like Southwest Airlines:

Facebook Graph Search Friends Who Like.png

  1. Local business directory

Just about every business has a Facebook page, which means Facebook can be used as a directory for local businesses. For example, if you’re looking for a specific type of restaurant, like Italian restaurants in Boston, enter those terms into the search box, and then click the Pages tab to show the pages of the businesses that match the search terms. This is a search I did to find Italian restaurants in Boston:

Facebook Graph Search Italian Restaurants in Boston.png

Pinterest Visual Search

Pinterest has text search tools like other networks, but what makes Pinterest really stand out with search is its visual search tool that finds other pins that share the same image. The visual search tool is available on any pin.

Get started by clicking on a pin that has something in the image you’d like to search for to see Pinterest pins containing similar items. When you find a pin you like, click on it to enhance its size, and then access the visual search tool by clicking the magnifying glass in the top right of a pin.

Pinterest Visual Search Magnifying Glass.png

The search tool opens a search box that you can resize over the pin to focus on a specific item in an image, or you can resize it over the entire pin. Once you’ve set the search box size, Pinterest visual search will show you pins that match your image.

If you see an icon next to the word from and a business name under the images in pins that show up in the search results, these are product pins, which means it’s easy for you to buy the product pictured in this pin. Product pins are linked to retailers’ websites – the retailers add code on their site that connects their web content to their Pinterest profile and content – which means that you can click on the pin and go directly to the retailer’s website to purchase the product.

Pinterest Visual Search Results.png

Instagram’s Local Search

Because of the location tags you can add to Instagram posts, Instagram has become a great way to find out what’s going on at locations near you.

Start by going to the search bar in Instagram and clicking the Places tab. Instagram will offer a search for places near your current location, as well as suggested cities nearby. Click the Near Current Location to find locations that have been recently tagged in Instagram posts.

Instagram Search 1.PNG

Choose one of the locations in the list.

Instagram Search 2.PNG

Instagram will show you a map of that location, a list of the top 9 posts from that location (posts that have gotten the most engagement – likes, comments, and shares), and a reverse chronological list of the most recent images that have been tagged with the location.

Instagram Search 3.PNG

Why would you want to use this? You could be visiting a new city and looking for something to do. You could be bored and want to find out if there’s anything worth checking out in your area. Or you could have plans to attend a place or event, and you can check out the recent images from the location to see if it’s worth checking out.

What are your favorite search tips?

These are the social media search tips I use the most, but there are tons of ways to search using social networks. What are your favorites? Did I miss some big ones? Let me know in the comments.


Want loyal customers? Take a lesson from Sephora: Teach them how to use your products

After the makeover: Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

Melanie and I strike a pose during our post-makeover cocktail celebration.

I am a member of the cult of Sephora.

Actually, I’m a VIB member – that’s Very Important Beauty – of their Beauty Insider rewards program for spending $350 in a calendar year (don’t judge; it’s not all for me – I do buy lots of birthday and Christmas gifts there!).

Why do I keep coming back? Because Sephora is not just a place where you buy makeup. You also have access to information and education – in the store and online – to help you choose the right products and learn how to use them.

This is a lesson that anyone – whether you’re a small business or big corporation – can use to win loyalty by letting customers try out products and services, and going beyond that with in-person demonstrations and social media content that provides education and best practices.

It starts with the store itself. If you haven’t been to a Sephora (or if you’re a guy and have stayed far, far away from them), they have a knowledgeable staff and aisles and aisles of makeup. Each product has a sample available that customers can try on. There are plenty of endcaps with disposable eyeshadow brushes, cotton swabs and tissues that allow you to try on the makeup (without getting any germs from the last customer). Beauty Insider members also get samples to take home and try based on purchase points earned – and a free birthday gift.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

A Sephora palette from one of my Instagram photo-a-day pics.

Sephora also offers a range of in-store educational services: express makeup application, classes and personalized consultations. Most are free, and a few are paid. A few weeks ago my friend Melanie and I made appointments for the customized makeup application, and it was definitely worth the price. The Sephora consultants were fantastic – they helped us with all of our questions on makeup application, indulged us with our “I always wanted to learn how to do ____” requests, and helped us find our own perfect colors and combinations. I had such a great experience and shared it on Facebook (word of mouth!), which is why I’m going back this weekend with 3 more friends – I’m picking up a few supplies and hanging out while they get express makeovers.

Most of their social media and email content shares that same combination – they strike a good balance of education and best practices vs. sales. The Sephora Facebook page and Pinterest boards are full of pro tips, links to Q&As with cosmetic company founders and reps, links to instructional videos, ideas, trends and invitations for fans to share their tips and photos.

Yes, Sephora is a global company and they want to make money, but they’re also providing a good experience for the customers with the sampling and educating. If you’re a customer, you can know on the spot if something’s right for you and not waste money on products that you’re never going to use. And if you’re a loyal customer, you’ll come back when you’ve used up your favorite shade of lipstick.

Stats, source and a new look: 3 things you should know about Pinterest

I have an on-again-off-again relationship with Pinterest. It’s mostly due to my on-again-off-again relationship with online shopping. I prefer to shop in person, try things on and see them face-to-face.

But sometimes I am curious about what’s new without having to leave the house (like tonight when we got a foot of snow). And then I see a ton of things I want, so I pin them to my boards (hello 30 dresses and skirts from ModCloth!).

I’ve noticed an on-again-off-again trend with Pinterest. You hear a blip here and there, and then there’s a period where Pinterest is everywhere – that’s what’s happened in the last month. So here are 3 things that you might want to take a look at if you’ve put Pinterest to the side lately. Log in and crank it up!

1. Stats

There are actually 2 things in the stats category. Here’s the first. An infographic I saw today with data from the Pew Center for Internet & American Life confirms what most people know about Pinterest: Most users are women. However, Pinterest use is very common across geography (urban, suburban and rural), race, education and income. When I think about the people I know who use Pinterest and their demographics, that really fits the bill. Some of those people could care less about Twitter or Instagram, but they are regular pinners.

Here’s the second stats item: As of last week, Pinterest added an analytics platform. Right now, it tracks pretty basic activity of content from your site that’s been pinned: number of pins, pinners, repins, impressions, reach, clicks and visitors. I’m interested to see how this develops over time. My little blog has a small amount of Pinterest data – my busiest times are the days that I pin blog posts, and a day or two after that:

Pinterest Stats for

2. Source

Here’s a cool little trick to find out what content from your website is getting pinned. Use this URL: This is a screenshot from my blog’s content that’s been pinned – mostly by me! But as my blog grows, it will be nice to see what’s being pinned so I can get a better picture of what content readers want.

Pinterest Content from

3. New look

If you have a Pinterest business account or have a verified website on your profile, you can preview Pinterest’s new look! There’s some small changes to the navigation – the search bar and categories are on the top left and tools for your settings have collapsed under one bar on the right. When you hover over the categories icon, it opens a window of 2 dozen topics.

The more interesting change is on the pins themselves. When you click a pin, it now shows a menu of other pins from that pin’s board, and suggests other items that people have pinned from that source/website. It’s a great way to explore other items or products that you haven’t seen before.

New Look - Pinterest Pins

That’s the latest about Pinterest! Got some tips that I didn’t cover? Let me know in the comments. Happy pinning!