Social Media users are beginning to experience a whole new level of interaction with Facebook Graph Search. It is touted by Facebook to help users “Find more of what you’re looking for through your friends and connections.” With Facebook graph search you can look up anything shared with you on the social network, and others can find stuff you’ve shared with them. This results in each person seeing a unique set of results.
Facebook Graph Search: What You Need to Know
Currently, Facebook Graph Search is in beta testing, but soon it should be available to all users. With this in mind, here are some excerpts from great article Noah Mallin put together to help users learn the ins and outs of Facebook’s latest addition:
“The Graph Search toolbar will appear as a header throughout Facebook. The search results act as their own page, with the query as the page title – this page can be shared as a piece of content in its own right by users, and the title can be re-edited to place the results into a new context.
Results Powered by the User’s Social Graph
The search results an individual will get are powered by his or her unique social graph – in other words, relevancy and results will be determined by the content and pages a user has interacted with (Likes, Shares, Comments), a user’s friends, and the content those friends have interacted with (and by extension their friends’ friends). Any privacy restrictions that users have enabled will extend to search results automatically.
For now Graph Search can only surface results in four primary categories: people, photos, places, and interests. To help users get used to these parameters Graph Search also gives some suggestions of categories to start with and to build on.
Unlike Google and Bing, where users tend to string words together as keywords, Graph Search is designed as a Natural Language Search Engine – think of how Siri works or Wolfram Alpha. In practice human nature will likely still reduce this down to shorter phrases like “friends in New York who like thai food.”
What Are the Limitations of Graph Search?
If Graph Search focuses on four main categories, what is being left out? Two big areas – Open Graph Actions (ie songs Listened to on Spotify or photos Pinned on Pinterest) and Posts (ie status updates) are not included. However this is likely to change as the Facebook Graph Search is upgraded.
There is currently no Graph Search API, nor is search included in the Facebook Insights API or ads API. This means that reporting on performance of brand pages or content in Graph Search using Facebook’s Insight tools will not be possible for the time being. There may be some workarounds for shared content such as images or videos however.
What Does Graph Search Mean For The Future of Facebook?
While Google approached social search from the standpoint of using their dominant search engine to jumpstart a social network with Google+, Facebook has taken the opposite approach – Using their dominance in social to push into search.
Facebook has been sitting on a mountain of rich user data, particularly the interconnection of behavior and relationships that powers the Social Graph. In almost every case the data has been leveraged for “push” discovery to consumers – seeing how many friends Liked a post, a page, or an ad for instance. For the first time, the data is being used to power consumer driven “pull” discovery – show me a restaurant, a jazz song, a picture – that is liked by or shared by friends.
In turn this adds a new layer of data, “handraising”, that Google has traditionally been master of. Presumably if I search for friends who Like or Checked In at Italian restaurants in Newark, I am also thinking of going to an Italian restaurant in Newark.
This may go hand in hand with a further push into reviews and local pages, assuming there enough volume and referrals are generated from Graph Search.
Facebook could also decide to further the relationship with Bing and serve up Facebook enhanced results to logged in users on Bing’s platform – arguably a huge advantage over Google in the realm of social results and another potential place to leverage ads. In addition, if Graph Search becomes even a moderately used tool on Facebook’s platform, it enhances the current Bing relationship as those results will continue to show up under the Web tab in Graph Search, and might be expected to lead to more conversions as volume increases.”
More on Facebook Graph Search
There are questions surrounding the level of sophistication of typical the Facebook user, and whether they will grow to fully utilize this new Facebook Graph Search. You can go here to check out Mr Mallin’s complete article.