Perhaps Facebook heard people murmuring that the network wasn’t “cool” anymore* and decided to prove them wrong, but whatever the reason, the launch of its new feature, Graph Search, does indeed seem pretty cool.
What is it?
Graph Search allows you to search for very specific things within your own social connections (a.k.a graph) as well as group your friends by shared likes or other similarities. For instance, if you want to search the network to find all your friends who live in New York, you could simply enter something like “my friends who live in New York” into the Graph Search box. Or, you could get more specific by entering “my friends who live in New York who like the Yankees.”
Once you get the results, you can give the results page your own title to “create your own custom view of the content you and your friends have shared on Facebook.”
Why is it special
Unlike web search, you can ask Graph Search questions in plain English, just as would speak in real life. So, instead of simply entering in a key word and getting very broad feedback, you can combine phrases to get more relevant results from the people, places, photos, and other content that’s been shared on Facebook.
Of course, all results are unique and intended to be highly relevant since they are based on the user’s own relationships and connections.
They said, “We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”
Of course, this update sounds all well and good for consumers, but does it have any marketing potential?
Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the quick access it gives users to products, services, and establishments their friends Like. For instance, someone need only search “restaurants nearby my friends like” to get a list of “pre-approved” places to eat, and the same principle can work for products or services. This gives businesses with a strong Facebook presence even more opportunities to connect with interested customers.
What’s more, users can use Graph Search to find businesses that were given a thumbs-up from friends (or friends of friends), which gives small and local businesses a chance to standout.
When’s it available?
Graph search launched today with limited availability. For now, it focuses on only four categories: people, photos, places, and interests. If you’re interested, you can sign-up for the waitlist, although Facebook has said the roll out will be slow so they can “see how people use Graph Search and make improvements.”
Facebook also stressed they are still very early in development and, as of now, it’s only available in English.
What’s your opinion — exciting change or no big deal?