Monthly Archives: January 2013

Will Facebook Graph Search Replace Google?

The big news in social media front this week has been of course Lance Amstrong coming clean (sort of)  in Oprah. Despite that, maybe even more important discussion item has been the new Graph Search by Facebook. Graph in the name means demographics. In a nutshell it is a search engine, which will show results based on their “social stickiness”. You can search for the items your friends like or find correlations with things you are liking and what other people with similar taste are. If you are planning for vacation, you can see who of your friends have visited or are living in your destination. The graph search is living on the notion that you trust more your friends, family and real people than brands, media or even the experts. What remains to be seen is do you trust more social search than search algorithm.

What are the implications of Facebook Graph Search?

1. Revenge of Facebook Places
Graph Search challenges firstly Yelp & FourSquare, secondly Google. The graph search creates definite incentive to start checking more with the Facebook places compared to other location services. It will not challenge heads-on Google´s search function, but definitely will be challenger for Google in certain categories. These categories will be restaurants, hotels and events, to name a few.
In this way Graph Search continues the typical Facebook strategy of finding up & coming services and then incorporating it to Facebook user experience. However, Graph Search is much bigger concept and also first proper challenge towards its main competitor Google.

2. Privacy debate lurks ahead
In a typical Facebook fashion you expect that there will lots of brouhaha over privacy. Some of it is because the overall liberal stance Facebook has for the privacy issues. Other part will be about Facebook users overall sloppiness with privacy issues. Majority of users do not have any idea to whom they are actually sharing and they suddenly wake up that updates and pictures might be public when there are updates to Facebook platform. Whatever changes happen in Facebook, it is always a privacy issue.

3. The more you give, the more you get
When implemented right, Graph Search will also boost other Facebook usage. When you realize that the more people will share their experiences, pictures, likes and statuses the more accurate the search will be. This creates positive pressure to use Facebook more. If you have not liked anything on Facebook , you will not get recommendations. And when people use Facebook more, the more FB can sell ads to show. Also if Graph Search starts to challenge also LinkedIn, there will be sudden surge to update your job details to Facebook.

4. It is just a matter of time, when ads will come as part of Graph Search
In the current beta phase, there are no ads showing in the search bar. With pressure to monetize and bring more shareholder value we will definitely see some kind of ads in the near future. Then it also starts to make sense to the companies as well.

5. This is just a small step from Facebook, but very crucial step to the right direction.
This is the most important launch from Facebook in a long time and first serious attempt to really dig deeper to the Facebook database. The amount of data and social connections will beWhen it will be really launched we can see how the social search really catches on with its users. One form of social search is already appearing when people pose questions to FB status updates. Graph search might in some ways replace that behavior and make finding recommendations easier. So although Wall Street was not particularly delighted about the new announcement, this function will definitely be interesting. Also to make Graph Search to function on full scale, requires apparently much more work.

Maybe more of a philosophical question, but also as it core and crucial to the success is the following:

Do I trust more the social recommendation than expert recommendation?

I trust my social circles in many of the issues there are. However, with certain issues I want to get views of experts. The amount of likes does not always tell the relevance to the searcher.

It will be the battle between hyperlinks and likes.

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Do You Still Want to Hear About Social Media Trends 2013?

Although everyone and their mother has already given their point of view about current social media trends, here are couple of more predictions.

Good folks at Kurio (Finnish Digital Marketing Think Tank) asked me and 17 other Finnish “social media experts”(stated by the report, I prefer to just be “the planner guy with funny glasses”) about social media trends in 2013 and conducted interesting study about the results. They identified nine emerging trends in social media for the year 2013. The report is in Finnish, but the main trends can be read below. All the finnish-speakers should definitely download the report below.

Big Social Media Themes for 2013  (my comments in italics):

1. 2013 is the year of Mobile (this has been my favourite prediction for at least five years. The main difference is that this year I am actually believing it)
2. Multichannel story-telling is the way to create modern phenomena (Or put it this way: If your marketing activity is not multi-channel/channel-agnostic/holistic/360/add your favourite buzzword by nature, it will be doomed to fail)
3. Lack of human resources is the main constraint in social media (The problem is two-folded, there is definitely lack of people actually working with social media. But there is actually even bigger talent problem: there are lots of “social media experts”, “community managers” but not enough actual strategic thinking about what we should do with and in social media. Social media without strategic thinking behind it is irrelevant at best and purely dangerous at worst.)
4. Big Data (Like the report also points out: we have lots of data & information, but do we have talent, resources and capabilities to turn that information to action?)
5. Content: Interesting, current and value-adding (Which starts the discussion about what is the good content? I still believe that good content is either 1)useful 2)funny 3)on some rare instances both)
6. Picture tells more than 2013 words (Despite the revolt against Instagram, people will rather share more pictures online than less in 2013)
7. Social cannot be just a digital or marketing function, but should be thought holistically (Definitely true, but also the most difficult to achieve. On some instances to make the change requires totally new management, who understands the possibilities of digital and social media. On other instances it requires adequate mix of sticks and carrots to ensure the competitive advantage in digital age)
8. Social media channels are starting to resemble more bought media (The pressure to monetize is already showing with different social networks, especially with Facebook)
9. Users are more and more critical towards marketing activities in social media (You might fool a customer once, but not twice. The opportunity to fool once has already passed)

Download the report (in Finnish).

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