What Is the Future of Facebook’s Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search

This week Mark Zuckerberg announced a new service becoming available for Facebook users called Graph Search. It hasn’t been fully released to the public just yet, but the premise is fairly simple, open up the terabytes of data that Facebook knows about its members to searchable queries by its members.

The feature will allow you to currently search within the following verticals of data information. Ask a question related to one of these topics and search your network of connections on Facebook to find people or information related to that query.

Relationships

Although the obvious application in this area would be for dating (look out eHarmony and Zoosk?), I believe the wider business application is for general networking. I believe this expands the functionality of Facebook to be used more like LinkedIn. For me the delineation between the two networks was one was for “personal” networking on the other was more suited for “business” relationships. This change now blurs that line a little more. Imagine a query like this “What friends do I have in Florida that work for Disney?” Perhaps, I’m looking to relocate and would love to get a job at Disney. These are the people that could probably point me in the right direction quickly, or even know of an already existing opening.

To spin it even more directly to business, what if I’m looking to hire people for my company and I want to know anyone that might have contacts with a direct competitor I might like to hire away from?

Photo Search

Photosharing on Facebook you realize is huge. Although not included yet, since Facebook recently purchased Instagram, you can add a few more million photos per month added to the index. If these photos are tagged with locations, descriptions, captions and people included. Want to get a quick collage of all the photos related to a recent concert? sporting event? Data at your fingertips.

Interests

Here’s the area I think is going to be huge for advertisers initially, although all the areas have obvious potential. The examples in the articles I read were finding things like move recommendations and TV shows. Query: “Of all my friends that like Big Bang Theory, what other shows do they watch?”

As a business, if you were wanting to really target your message or pitch to a specific demographic, this allows you to do so. One of the articles stated, “It seems a lot like Amazon, but for interest discovery rather than purchasing — at least for now.” That “at least for now” bit is the key. Once they have this ability, why wouldn’t they distill it down and begin using it for their own advertising efforts for selling ads? A business (your business?) may not have to wait long before you don’t need to connect with a 30-40 year old married male living in Indianapolis, you can connect to a 38 year old male, living on the south side of Indianapolis with two kids, two brothers who enjoys Big Bang Theory and Person of Interest and frequently shares his geographic location through Foursquare and shares lots of photos from his mobile phone.

Places

Although still not as widely used as Foursquare, Facebook has allowed you to check into specific geographic locations for awhile now. As they improve the ease of doing this on their network and combine that with all of the other information that is shared related to the person checking in and the location being checked-in to, this data becomes more valuable as well.

There’s the personal use of this data, “Which of my friends have eaten at the Rock-Cola Cafe?”, there’s the business use of this same information for businesses. Maybe I want to reach out to my customers or patrons and offer them special deals. Or, of all the people that have checked-in to my location and also like Star Wars, let’s get them in for a special event on the calendar.

Apple’s Siri uses Yelp for much of it’s knowledge and recommendations. It may not be long before Facebook/Bing could seriously challenge Yelp/Google for place information, reviews and feedback from a community of people you already trust… all of your friends and family on Facebook.

Currently, someone must actively write a review and submit it to Yelp or similar website. With Graph Search, Facebook could easily add a rating system to places, Pages and interests to get more than just a “Like” count. Through search, they could then combine that data with status updates related to that entity and display information about that location without a single review actively being written by anyone.

Privacy Concerns

Many Facebook users will probably start crying “Foul!” about privacy concerns. Facebook will put in some options for users to suppress information they’d rather not open up to Graph Search.

I’m actually still amazed at the uproar people get into over some of these privacy concerns. I think there’s much confusion over “private” information and “personal” information. If you share information on a network that you don’t own or control, in my opinion there should be no illusion of privacy, only the awareness of the impact of your personal information now being public, but that’s for a post on another day.

With Facebook’s partnership with Microsoft and Bing, I’m curious as to how much of this data may start to be exposed to search algorithms. Bing has heralded itself as not a “search” engine, but an “answer” engine. Something also alluded to in the TechCrunch article with the phrase “…That Gives You Answers, Not Links Like Google”.

Many of my thoughts related to the impact of Graph Search for use to businesses or specifically Page Admins, hasn’t been clearly defined yet, at least that I’ve read. I don’t think it will be long before it is.

If it weren’t obvious before, now you just have a few more reasons to be active on Facebook as a business. Jason Falls (@JasonFalls) at Social Media Explorer states,

“For marketers, though, this evolution of the Facebook ecosystem of utility means one thing: You should have been investing in social media marketing all along. Without a strong social presence, particularly on Facebook, your business is not going to have the requisite recommendations, referrals and content necessary to trip this new search mechanism.  If you don’t have much presence or traction there now, you’d better get some and fast.”

Related articles for Graph Search

About Jason Bean

Jason Bean
Jason Bean is an eclectic mix of the introverted technology guru and the ultimate people person. He is Deep Ripples’ technical unicorn, a mystery of talents wrapped in an enigma. With seven years of software and application development experience, Jason has incorporated the necessary balance between data crunching and translating technical jargon into a language all company members can understand and apply.

One Response to What Is the Future of Facebook’s Graph Search

  1. Jason Bean says:

    Firebelly just posted a list of some other great articles and resources about Facebook’s Graph Search. http://www.firebellymarketing.com/2013/01/facebook-graph-search-5-must-reads.html