Is This The Facebook Search We’ve Been Waiting For?

by Chad Wittman on Jan 16, 2013

Finally.

Facebook has finally announced the beginning of their search conquest.

Although officially in beta, yesterday Facebook unveiled Graph Search.

Consider this the “big bang” of the social search.

What is Graph Search?

Graph Search currently enables users to now search objects that are connected with them via the Graph. You can think of the Graph as how Facebook conceptualizes how you’re connected with the world.

The Graph is examining your relationships with all of the trillions of objects that live in Facebook’s ecosystem.

With Graph Search, Facebook is attempting to give the user the ability to examine these relationships.

“Which friends live in NYC?” — “Friends’ pictures of Paris” — these relationships have existed within the Facebook ecosystem for some time, but now Graph Search provides the platform to view them.

Graph Search unlocks so much data for the common user it is hard to quantify.

Is This The Facebook Search We’ve Been Waiting For?

No.

Facebook is rolling this out to a fairly limited user base, as a beta. Facebook’s working examples of how to use the new platform aren’t particularly strong use cases for a majority of Facebook users.

The examples demoed on stage were weak at best. What this new development does indicate is something much more profound.

Facebook is officially allocating significant time, energy, resources, and talent to mining this data for public consumption. Mark Zuckerberg said on stage yesterday that the Graph Search team is a team like any other at Facebook, like the Facebook Timeline team.

Graph Search now provides an official starting point for the company to continue to develop the Facebook Search we’ve been waiting for.

What Does This Mean For My Business? 

Businesses with a physical location, AKA local businesses, will benefit the most from Graph Search. The second most benefitted businesses will be ecommerce. This should hold true at least through the initial phases of Graph Search. These businesses have the easiest input signals into the Graph Search algorithm, while also possessing clear-cut opportunities to obtain sales.

As with most of Facebook’s big features and changes, I recommend to make sure your Facebook Page is fully completed (fill in all relevant details) and keep pushing for higher engagement on your page. If there’s one common keyword with anything Facebook has ever done, it’s “engagement”.

You have to drive engagement with your content in order to take full advantage of Facebook. This same ideology will hold true with Graph Search. Objects that receive engagement are more beneficial than objects without.

Challenges

As of today, from what I’ve seen in their demos, it is not quite there yet. I don’t particularly care how fast it is, or how beautiful it is.

I need to see it solving problems.

Features such as the news feed and messages are clear-cut problem solvers; can Graph Search move into that space?

As with anything that anyone builds, the question needs to be asked—“Will people actually use this?”

Many general Facebook users have exclaimed that they don’t use Facebook Search to find photos of locations or other examples Facebook demoed. Of course people don’t use Facebook Search in this manner… for now.

These objections are as narrow minded as people who doubted Google’s entry into email. Did Google users ‘Google for their email’? How would this work? People don’t use Google to check email, and why would they? They had Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Outlook, and so many more. Users didn’t need Google’s approach to email.

Users didn’t realize they wanted Gmail until they saw it’s superiority. It didn’t happen overnight, Gmail had many iterations before becoming the popular email client it is today. How is this different than Facebook entering search?

Humans resist change. Humans won’t change until they’re convinced the alternative is better.

Facebook search can be better.

It’s All About Ad Money

Let’s not kid ourselves. This move is about capturing users’ search queries to open a floodgate of search revenue.

We’re talking about a whole new level of retargeting ads and incredibly high CPCs. Google has to be slightly concerned about this move, this would eat directly at their profits.

It might not be a “Google killer” but it won’t be as simple as a “just a flesh wound”.

Time Will Tell

Will Facebook users actually use this? This is a billion-dollar question.

If so, Zuckerberg is right—this is only the beginning. If users don’t use this, it will fall to wayside like Questions, Deals, and many others.

Time will tell. Human behavior can be changed. The data would be unfathomable. Profits would be unfathomable.

The future will be an interesting place.

 

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Co-Founder & VP of Product at Dolly, an iPhone and Android app that is like Uber meets U-Haul or Lyft for Moving. Former Founder of EdgeRank Checker (acquired by Socialbakers)...