A dive into Facebook’s Graph Search

Plagued with mystery, social media site Facebook sent invitations for a private press conference to the media, thought leaders, and select business people. The invitations hinted at a big announcement, prompting invitees to see what Facebook was building.

The internet  came a roar with speculation. Some said Facebook was ready to released their own smartphones. Other said Facebook was about to release new mobile site offerings.

Come press conference, the cat was out of the bag: Facebook was taking on arch rival Google by building their own search engine.

The Facebook search engine, dubbed “Facebook Graph Search” aims to take on Google’s “Search +1″ by becoming the leader in social search.  The Graph Search engine allows Facebook users to search for friends’ recommendations and common interests. The tool combs the data users provide to their friends (taking into consideration their privacy settings) and makes this data usable.

Facebook graph search bryan nagy

Facebook hopes its users will flock to the tool, using it for things such as finding a gym buddy (search for friends who workout near you), discover restaurant recommendations (search for friends who have checked into restaurants in your area), or even find images (search for friends’ photos of you in New York City).

The result is a search engine that greatly overpowers the current search capabilities on Facebook and takes on countless other companies. Who should be nervous?

  1. Google. As Google hopes to increase it’s social search, Facebook’s Graph Search will definitely overpower it and millions of users will choose Facebook over Google.  Even image searches will likely increase on Facebook. However, Google is still the owner of web search, something Facebook’s Graph Search can’t even hold a candle to. This includes webpages, news sites, images, and videos. There is only so much content a user’s friends hold, and that’s Facebook. Google has the whole world at its fingertips.
  2. Yelp. Workers and investors at Yelp are nervous. In fact, the day after Facebook announced its new search engine, shares of Yelp dropped. As Facebook users head to Facebook for business reviews, some may stay away from Yelp. However, Yelp has years of reviews  on Facebook and incorporates non-friend’s reviews. It’s possible (and likely) Facebook will do so in the future to truly take on Yelp.
  3. TripAdvisor and the like. Users will want one less system out of the picture that they have to log onto and visit. Travel review sites will be one of these.

Facebook’s Graph Search will not only impact competitors, but also businesses on Facebook. Since the search engine is linked to Facebook Pages and Places for its search results, any data, reviews, and promotions on these Pages will be more easily discovered by users. This not only means potentially more traffic and business from Facebook Pages, but also an increased importance for brands to keep their Facebook Pages up to date with the latest promotions and their reviews and customer inquiries positive.

Late in December, I reported on Facebook updating its Places mobile section. It is very likely this update was done in preparation for Graph Search since the way Facebook Pages displays in Facebook Places appears to be similar to the way they’re displayed in Graph Search. All post reviews, friend activity, and integration with the business’ Facebook Page.

As a business, what can you do in preparation for Facebook’s Graph Search?

  1. Sign up for Facebook Pages. If you haven’t already, and you own a business, do so.
  2. Keep your Facebook Page up to date. This includes contact information and posts. Facebook Pages with more information and posts will likely generate more visits.
  3. Reviews and recommendations on Facebook Pages will become even more important. Does you business have any recommendations on your Facebook page yet? If not, push users to review your business. Make posts asking them to do so, send emails to your email list, and even run ads on Facebook targeting users who currently like your Facebook page. The more reviews your business has, the more users might visit your business.
  4. Promotions on your Facebook Page will now easily show up to users searching for businesses like yours. Since search results link directly to a business’s Facebook Page, any promotion posts made on the Page can be more easily seen by users. If you have promotions running, make sure to post them on Facebook. This could make the difference between a user visiting your business or your competitors.

To be one of the first users to get access to Facebook Graph Search, visit the link below and sign up:

https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch

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