This post is written by Kristen Johnson, a member of Vistaprint’s social media team who focuses on content marketing.
Facebook has revamped its search engine with the recent launch of Graph Search. The name “Graph Search” refers to the network of friends, or social graph, that Facebook users have created over the years and are now able to rediscover. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg refers to this new piece of functionality as the “third pillar to Facebook’s ecosystem,” in addition to the newsfeed and timeline. This new social search product allows users to sift through years of Facebook content and filter results by likes, check-ins, photo tags, and much more.
The idea of personalized search is nothing novel. In fact, companies such as Amazon and Netflix have been offering recommendations for users based on previous behavior and preferences for ages. For Facebook, this new feature allows users to sort through social content that is otherwise not crawlable to search engines like Google or Yahoo. However, in order for Graph Search to succeed, users are going to have to change the way in which they interact with the platform.
“Likes” Will Be More Important
If users do not divulge enough information, including a fully completed profile, likes, status updates and check-ins, then the search engine will not reach its full potential, according to Facebook engineer Lars Rasmussen. The idea is that users trust the opinion of their friends and will make decisions based off of a friend’s recommendation as opposed to one from websites such as Yelp or Pandora. At this point, you probably are not going around liking all your favorite local businesses, but given the potential that Graph Search has, this behavior may change as more users rely on Facebook for referrals.
6 Degrees of Separation
Graph Search allows you not only to search your immediate friends but actually lets you comb through data from friends of friends. For individual users this may present a privacy concern, but from a business perspective, it allows brands to drill down by specific keywords to segment and target very precise audiences. This could potentially be a powerful resource for small businesses to reach beyond first degree connections to seek out new clients through targeted keyword searches.
The prospect of Facebook’s new search engine is undoubtedly exciting, yet Facebook needs more data from its users in order for Graph Search to reach its full potential. Users today are more cognizant of the information that they share on their profiles and may increase privacy settings in fear of how their personal content may be sourced from strangers. On the other hand, users may be encouraged to go through and like things that they wouldn’t have thought to in the past, such as their favorite local hair salon, as a way of endorsement.
Clearly, the potential of Graph Search is evident, however only time will tell how this new search functionality will evolve. Stay tuned for a follow up post, here on our blog, on Graph Search after it becomes publicly available. To learn more, visit Facebook’s official introduction and sign up for a beta trial.
Do you think Facebook’s Graph Search will change the way that you use the platform personally or professionally? Are you excited or concerned about the new search engine features? Tell us in the comments section!