Facebook Graph Search

Posted by: in Facebook, Insights, Social Media Insights & Trends, Thought Leadership on January 17, 2013

(Co-authored by Allison Price and Matt Snodgrass)

On January 15, Facebook held a much-anticipated press conference introducing a new product launch. Up until the announcement, online speculation was mounting with one prediction after another.

From introducing a mobile phone to Timeline updates (which have been rumored to be in testing already) to the integration of other social platforms – online buzz was swarming, but it was worth the hype.

Facebook unveiled Graph Search, a search tool that will allow users to instantaneously index personalized Facebook content based on search queries. Graph Search is not a Web-based tool but will rather search the constantly growing map of Facebook, allowing for customizable searches with the use of filters.

Currently, this tool is in beta mode, and people, photos, places and interests form the foundation of the search, which means that users will be able to rank their friends, photos, places and interests within the platform. Search results will be based on factors that include content that has been shared by brand Pages and the connections of the user who is conducting the search. For information that is not currently indexed, search results will be produced by Microsoft’s Bing.

Facebook emphasized that personal privacy is still top-of-mind. People can search for things like “photos posted by Starbucks” or “TV shows my friends in New York like to watch,” but only public content will be viewable.

An “Extend this Search” option suggests searches that are related, such as “Videos from these Pages” and “Photos from these Pages” – a great opportunity for brand Pages. This will pull content directly from the brands’ Facebook Page for users to view and engage with. This further stresses the importance for brands to post engaging content to their brand Page. Currently, Facebook has not introduced new search ads, but brands can still use sponsored results.

Graph Search is still in the early stages of development, but Facebook says that there are more updates to come. This marks a huge addition to Facebook, because they’ll have cracked the code that Google still has not … truly personalized search. There’s enough data flying around Facebook that these search results will be relevant and meaningful … to you. Not to say it will supplant Web search — people will still want a (somewhat) unfiltered search experience.

We predict a few enhancements to come to Graph Search:

  1. Paid placement: Eventually, they will allow brands to pay for “sponsored results” within Graph Search results.
  2. Graph API: Eventually, Facebook will add Graph Search to their Graph API to open these searches up to other websites in order to maximize the user base. This will eventually eat into Google’s lunch when it comes to paid search dollars.
  3. Other enhancements will include features such as mobile capabilities, post search capabilities, and additional search categories.

You can check out the limited beta version at https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch. While you’re there, join the waiting list, so you can be among the first users to receive access. It will launch for public use over the next few weeks, but this is definitely going to be worth the wait.

By: Matthew Snodgrass

Group Director of Digital Strategy at NextWorks, partner of The W2O Group.

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