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Facebook releases Graph Search

Facebook Graph Search: People who like Cycling and are from my hometown


21.1.2013

Don’t worry if you missed the big Steve Jobs style announcement from Mark Zuckerberg on Tuesday, we’ll bring you up to speed.

Facebook will soon be releasing Graph Search, which is a new and visual way to search through everything and anything you want to know about your connections. 

Facebook announced these “breakthrough” search features which allows you to:
  • Find people who share your interests. 
  • Want to start a book club or find a gym buddy? Connect with friends who like the same activities—and meet new people, too. Explore your world through photos
Type in specific phrases like “Photos my friends took in New York City” to find anything you want.
  • Discover restaurants, music and more
Explore new places to eat and new bands to listen to—all through people you know.

In an online video, Mark Zuckerberg explains it in terms of understanding eco systems and different pillars of connectivity. He then introduces a couple of Engineers to talk about how they partner with Bing to combat the challenge of making search relevant for their 1 Billion Users with over 1 Trillion Connections. 

It’s all very nice and swish but to most of us, it doesn’t sound terribly exciting. And unfortunately that’s seems to be the prevailing reaction from analysts. Most have responded with disappointment or indifference and some have even thrown down a gauntlet to find a better name. 

Here’s what they’re saying…

"Our initial view is that the quantity of Facebook search volumes will be relatively low, as consumers are likely to continue prioritizing other sources (i.e. Google). Advertisers would consequently only use search if they can - or are perceived to - satisfy their goals efficiently with Facebook."
Brian Wieser, Pivotal Research Group, talking to Mashable 

“After all the build-up to Facebook's event at its Californian headquarters, Mark Zuckerberg's announcement left me - and I suspect millions of its users - distinctly underwhelmed. A new way of mining the information your friends, and their friends, post on the social network does not sound revolutionary.”
Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC

“We see some highly monetizable category suggestions for Graph Search (restaurants nearby, games), and it should be easy to incorporate commercial search results via Facebook's partnership with Bing.”
BoFA Merrill Lynch talking to the Huffington Post

What does it mean for users and brands?

My gut feeling is that the Graph Search has the potential to be amazing, both for users and business, because it harnesses the power of a referral. Think about it, with Graph, you should be able to get your friend’s recommendations on almost anything, from the best restaurants right through to their thoughts on the latest blockbuster. 

And that’s great, because let’s be honest, advertising has always played second fiddle to what your friends think. But this kind of information is (and has been for some time) available at the flick of screen via FourSquare, Google image search and Google+ Communities. Graph Search is not “ground breaking” it’s just sensible!

For those brands who wish to stick with and consolidate their efforts into the social network giant, Graph Search increasingly provides a “one-stop-shop”; targeting audiences and developing very specific and granular communities.

Users are more inclined to gravitate to and connect with brands who are responsive to their interest and needs - using all the features Facebook has to offer, who participate in their communities and have solid social proof. 

Once this feature is adopted by more and more users the information that is then available to Facebook (and therefore advertisers) will be AMAZING!

That said, I find it a little presumptuous for Facebook to assume that its users will freely share even more personal details, after all, users are becoming more and more sensitive about privacy issues, IP and the data mining of their precious information. I personally, just use Facebook to talk to my friends and share my photos not to  search forthe local takeaway or journalise every waking moment of my day. But then again, that’s just me.

So although the social network might have sorted its search issue, it might have potentially created another. Can it convince us to keep feeding it information to satisfy its hungry new search engine?

 

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