Tagged: graph search

Facebook Graph Search – People Who Like Cantaloupe and Joseph Gordon-Levitt

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Facebook has always been a controversial company. Love it or hate it, chances are you have a profile of your own. The social giant has allowed us to reconnect with old friends, communicate more freely than ever before, and even keep tabs on our exes…if you are so inclined. The point is, Facebook means many different things to many different people – which is why no matter how many times Zuckerberg dangles his toe over the privacy line, his site still manages to add users faster than Honey Boo Boo goes through butter (my apologies in advance).

Joking aside, the Facebook privacy concerns have led users to wonder if Facebook is “out to get them”. The answer is: Maybe…but there’s no consensus. And Facebook’s latest site feature, Graph Search, follows that same pattern. Some consider it to be a boon for users and companies, while others think Graph Search represents the biggest privacy breech yet. I do not have an opinion either way and I’m going to reserve my judgement until I see how it affects both my personal and professional use of the site. Until then, I thought I’d break down some of the things we do know about the new feature and lend some perspective on how I believe it will affect businesses operating on Facebook.

So what is Graph Search? Simply put, it’s a more robust way to search and use Facebook. You can type full phrases into the search bar with multiple search parameters and Facebook pulls out the relevant information and returns more accurate and salient results. This marks a significant departure from the Facebook search functionality we’re used to. Instead of segmenting searches by People, Pages, Groups, Apps, etc., Graph Search allows you to combine search criteria to very specifically target the information you’re looking for.

Below are some screenshots from the Graph Search introduction page on Facebook. They lay out a few examples of possible searches.

Say you’re into cycling and want to connect with others that share that interest…

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You can further refine your search by location…

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You can also search for more obscure things, like photos that were taken in a specific year…

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Or look for TV shows, movies, or music that your friends like…

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And you can also look for restaurants or other businesses that your friends have been to, even in a specific location…

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The demonstration is impressive. Graph Search combines the customization of Google with the personal element of Facebook. And the flexibility allowed by the search parameters is exciting. The experience reminds me of Apple’s Siri feature. You speak to Siri as you would to a personal assistant (perhaps a little less politely) and she picks out the important information and commands. It is a more human way of interfacing with technology and it somehow makes the whole experience more comfortable. If Graph Search works as well as advertised, the result could be a revolutionary way to search the web and could have Google, Yelp, and others shaking in their boots.

But what does all of this mean for businesses? My guess is, businesses are salivating at the thought of Graph Search going live. With more users turning to Facebook to meet their web-search needs, the opportunity for your business page to be seen increases significantly. While demoing Graph Search, Zuckerberg encouraged businesses to continue adding interesting and updated content to their business pages. The richer and more accurate the content, the better his new search feature will perform. And if Graph Search is successful, Facebook will be able to command a higher price for ad space and, eventually, sponsored Graph Search results – a business model very similar to Google, the largest online advertiser in the world.

So who is the winner in all of this? Well, Facebook seems to think it’s everyone. Users get a better, more personalized way to search for information, businesses will have more people driven to their fan pages (based on searches by friends of fans that “like” the business’ page), and Facebook stands to make a ton of money in ad revenue. Believe it or not, if everything goes according to plan, I can see how all parties could benefit. The trick – as it usually is with Facebook – is to make sure that Graph Search minds its manners when it comes to privacy and doesn’t do anything to land on the scrapheap, next to Beacon.

Graph Search is still in Beta, but you can join the waiting list here. What do you think about Facebook’s new search feature? Is the idea tantalizing or alarming? As always, let me know in the comments section below!