Facebook Graph - What Can We Expect?

BLOG POST

BLOG POST
January 2013

Facebook has caused waves recently with the announcement of what Mark Zuckerberg has labelled “the third pillar of Facebook” (the first two pillars being the News Feed and Timeline).

Facebook Graph – What Can We Expect?

Facebook has caused waves recently with the announcement of what Mark Zuckerberg has labelled “the third pillar of Facebook” (the first two pillars being the News Feed and Timeline).

So What is Facebook Graph?

Facebook Graph is a new way of delivering search results, how it differs from search engines like Google is that it doesn’t rely or work on finding links to pages on the internet with keywords, instead it delivers results to individuals on Facebook based on the connections that user has. Relying heavily on ‘likes’ and the user’s connections and privacy settings, Facebook Graph is in line with Facebook’s mission to make the world more connected, rather than just being great at connecting us with our friends.

To begin with Facebook Graph Search will let you search for people, photos, places and interests, but as it develops it’ll be more refined with its search capabilities (searching for Facebook posts, song listens etc.).

 

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You can see from the above screenshots, that Facebook have released, the main options available with Facebook Graph. Potentially you can make searches like “friends who live in London”, “people from my hometown who like cricket”, “friends who work in marketing”, “photos I like”, “photos of my family”, “restaurants my family like”, “friends who like the TV show Breaking Bad”.

All of these queries can help the Facebook user to find the answers they’re looking for, they may be looking for marketing advice from a friend, they might be in London with a few hours to kill and want to see who they could potentially meet up with, they might want a quick restaurant recommendation or they might want to invite a friend over to watch the TV show Breaking Bad or discuss the show with. All this, and much more, is possible with Facebook Graph Search.

What’s great about this is that this search is going to be personalised to everyone, everyone will see different results of their search – something Google has actively been trying to achieve with their own search engine, Facebook are just doing it in a very different way.

The Drawbacks of Facebook Graph?

As Zuckerberg says himself, Facebook Graph is a big project and will take years to map the whole index of the graph. Eventually Facebook will index all content on Facebook, but the initial stages will likely provide blank search results for users, when this happens Facebook Graph will direct you to Microsoft’s Bing to deliver your search results instead, in the more traditional way.

There are concerns with privacy, as always when it comes to a new Facebook innovation, but Facebook took the time to address those concerns. Facebook Graph will only index your content and deliver them to precisely how your privacy settings are specified. If your photos are set to be shared with friends only, your photos will only potentially come up in results to your friends. What this will mean is people will have to go through their settings and make sure their privacy settings are set to how they’d like, and receive no shocks as to which of their content may show up in a search.

The problem is, if everyone suddenly locked up all their privacy settings, that’ll defeat the very object of Facebook Graph Search. However it is unlikely that this will happen on a large scale.

What this means for Marketers and Advertisers

This won’t happen on day one, but if Facebook Graph can establish itself successfully in the way Facebook envisages, it shouldn’t be too difficult for them to monetise, whether that be through allowing traditional CPC ads, or sponsored posts (or even sponsored results..?) on pages where certain Facebook Graph search results or however Facebook sees fit. The potential for advertisers and marketers here is obvious; the level of targeting could potentially be very focused. Searches such as “TV shows most liked by doctors” (a feature and search that Facebook specifically demonstrated) are something that could be of much interest to marketers.

It’s uncertain as to what exactly marketers and advertisers can expect, but the industry will be watching closely.

In the meantime, businesses and marketers need to get ready for this new pillar of Facebook. Optimising business pages will be of much importance, ensuring the names, URLs, and the information the page shares is set up in a way Facebook Graph could help link the page to a user’s search. Getting people who ‘like’ the page to interact with the content will also be even more important than it already was!

Is this Facebook’s Google ‘killer’? Unlikely. It may encourage Facebook users to interact on Facebook more, but Google’s search engine will still be the go to for people’s needs. Facebook Graph Search is more of a ‘social’ search more than anything, and thus can be considered a different service than Google provides, so it’d be unfair to compare the two.

One thing’s for sure, this is a huge and exciting move by Facebook, whether it works or not in the long term, we’ll just have to wait and see.

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