Facebook Graph Search and the Future of Online Search

Facebook recently introduced their graph search feature, which enables users to search virtually anything related to their friends.  It is possible to find everything from interests to photos and places.  Microsoft's Bing will also be incorporated into the Facebook graph search.  (Many users don't realize that Microsoft holds a small percentage of Facebook!)  The search takes into account which information has been publicly shared. [caption id="attachment_2117" align="aligncenter" width="504"]SALO Consulting - Facebook Graph Search Outside the US? Join the waiting list here[/caption]

Facebook Search, a New Type of Search

Through this new Facebook search, it will be possible to search people's timelines to get information that you are seeking.  That means you can quickly gain information without visiting people's individual profiles to do the research.  Facebook is suggesting that users can incorporate this tool to find out about users who are similar to them.  For example, you can find people in your location who like the same music, books and movies. Facebook has been working on this new development for more than 2 years.  As a result, the Facebook Graph search represents a unique form of a search engine.  Here is a link to the patent application filed by Facebook (June 15, 2010) entitled, “Search and retrieval of objects in a social networking system”. This new development has raised quite a few privacy concerns among the public.  However, it does take all preexisting privacy rules into account and it doesn't add settings that people need to opt out from.

What Does Facebook Graph Search Mean to Your Business?

For businesses seeking to get noticed on Facebook, Facebook graph search represents certain advantages and disadvantages. One important thing to be aware of is that Facebook will be allowing a local search function. The results that users get will be based, in part, by the information the business page has shared. This development truly makes it even more important for businesses to have and properly maintain Facebook pages.  Still many businesses have only personal profiles and haven't actually developed a fan page.  Of course, quite a few businesses still lack a presence on Facebook altogether. To get the optimal results, business owners have to optimize their Facebook pages.  For example, be sure all relevant details are mentioned in the About section.  Also continue to drive fans to your page and focus on giving them interesting and engaging content.  However, if users have added your business as a “place”, you may still get results through the new Facebook search.

Facebook Graph Search vs. Google Web Search

Many are fearful that this new Facebook graph search functionality could interfere with the power of Google. Will people do more of their searches within Facebook now and stop using Google as much? While Facebook explicitly says that their new Facebook search tool isn't really a web search engine, the fact that Bing is integrated is raising more than a few eyebrows.