It’s the announcement we’ve all been waiting for. Facebook is launching a new search function for its users: Facebook Social Search – which it’s calling Graph Search.
As a search marketer and freelance SEO consultant this is quite a big announcement. Graph search will allow users to search through their friends content through Facebook – so it’s not a direct competitor to Google in that it’s not a global search function, but with such a large amount of people using the Facebook platform you can be sure it will add a serious layer to the way people search the internet and it won’t be the last announcement Facebook make in the search sector.
How Graph Search will Answer User Questions
Apparently the new function will allow the user to find answer to direct questions asked through the search box, but to start off with it will be limited to content that has been directly shared with the user.
Zuckerberg set out long term goals by saying Graph Search will be focused around people, places, photos and interests, but if you think about the type of content that your friends are looking at, liking and sharing you can be sure there will be a lot of possibilities for taking that further in the very near future. With Facebook’s recent move to being a public company listed on the stock market, the platform will be pushed towards a more central search function in order to directly compete with Google.
This has been on the cards for a long time, Google saw it coming and launched Google Plus in 2011 to try to head them off at the pass, however Google Plus has been in no way as successful as Facebook and hasn’t collected any where near the amount of user data as Facebook has managed to clock up.
Area Graph Search Will become Central for Internet Users
We can see that Facebook will become much more central in the spheres of recruitment, dating as well as recommendations for shopping, in these spheres it’s likely the platform will take a significant chunk of Google’s market share. It’s likely that this will take a good chunk out of the market search of Linkedin as well which has become dominant in the realms of recruitment in recent years.
There are a number of websites out there that Facebook has just taken a chunk out of and it’s going to take a while for the dust to settle before we see who the winners are and who the losers are – think of Yell, think of Trip Advisor, these are the types of sites I would suggest might want to think about this development very carefully.
These features directly compete with other search platforms such as Yelp (which has seen a drop in share value of around 7% after the announcement) and directly competes with Google’s Search Plus Your World – however Google’s share value hasn’t yet seen a slump. In the coming days it may well take a bit of a hit when people get their heads around what this means.
How This Will Change Facebook’s Business Model
This is changing the Facebook model somewhat in that historically Facebook has always been built on a push model, in which it feeds data to you based on your personalised requirements as Facebook sees it, this content is all about the pull, a users goes on an has to search. Interestingly, this is likely to give Facebook a lot more data about the user.
Interestingly, Google’s traditional business flow has been on the change in towards being more central for years, however Facebook might have an advantage over them as people are used to consuming their content on Facebook whereas users are used to consuming their content away from Google.
After the announcement Facebook’s shares seem to have risen and Zuckerberg’s hints towards the benefit for mobile marketing (and more importantly the advertising revenues this could return to Facebook) has closed one of the flaws in the business model that saw Facebook’s share value drop post being floated.
The product is in Beta at the moment and it’s likely that it’s going to evolve quite a lot, and probably quite rapidly in the coming months. This will change how people use the internet, as search marketers we’ve been banging on for a while now about the importance of social media and with this announcement it just got that bit more important.
If you’d like to have a read about what Facebook has to say about Graph Search have a look here.