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.