Facebook Graph search – the dawn of a new search engine?
In March 2013 Facebook introduced Graph Search a natural language search capability within Facebook. There is one primary difference between Graph Search and the search engines we are used to using today; is that the results it displays are based on the relationships amongst users and not on keywords like traditional search engines.
It is a semantic search engine based in intended meaning rather than matching keywords. Search results are based on the content of their friends profiles, their interactions and likes. It generally thought that the search will include second degree connections.
What is a Social Graph?
The social graph in the Internet context is a sociogram, a graph that depicts personal relations of internet users. It has been referred to as “the global mapping of everybody and how they’re related”
Back in May 2007, CEO Mark Zuckerberg used the term ‘social graph’ to refer to the network of connections and relationships between site users. Zuckerberg said that “it’s the reason Facebook works.” He went on to say the social graph is “changing the way the world works… As Facebook adds more and more people with more and more connections it continues growing and becomes more useful at a faster rate. We are going to use it spread information through the social graph.”
Facebook supports searches for the following types of objects:
- Public posts
- Places (limitable to a specific location (latitude and longitude) and distance)
- Check-ins of the user, friends, or where user or friends have been tagged
- Objects with location information attached. In addition, the returned objects will be those in which the user or friends have been tagged, or those objects that were created by the user or friends.
Users can filter results, such as in time (since and until), or search only a given user’s News Feed.
Primarily, Facebook graph search has been developed to increase connectivity and to make it easier to see what friends with similar interests have been doing. So I can search for:
Photos of my Friends in London
People who like cycling from Buckinghamshire
Resturants in Beaconsfield that my friends have visited
However, as ever this advancement in digital technology which is leveraging the open connected world we now live in also presents opportunities for us as marketers. Although we don’t yet know the details behind the Graph Search formula / algorithm, phrases such as GSO – Graph Search Optimisation are already being spawned with advice as to how to leverage Graph search.
- Use photos and videos to drive engagement: posts with photos and videos routinely see increased engagement levels, which Facebook uses as a signifier of quality content.
- Multi-location brands should claim local pages for all physical locations: a strong local presence with accurate location data boosts visibility in local search results.
- Create a local engagement strategy: combining local data with engagement will significantly boost visibility. Engage customers with check-ins and promotions and be sure to ask for customer reviews.
The New Online Advertising Channel
A Facebook fan spreads ad messages to 61 times more people than US or UK TV
Whilst the advertising opportunities have yet to be introduced and clarified, there will be the opportunity for very targeted advertising. Sponsored results, product specific ads, location based advertising are all real possibilities; marketers need to keep an eye on this as another advertising channel.
This will no doubt enhance Facebook as a major advertising platform and launch them as a major advertising platform; no doubt boosting their much needed revenue streams in the future.
Where can I find social graph?
Facebook have not yet released Social Graph to the public, however you can register for it and find out more at https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch
Google+ Social Graph
Facebook Social Graph cannot be looked at in isolation. Serach results based on connections experiences and likes is at the core of Google+ .
As Zach Alcorn says, what makes Google+ the best social experience on the web – it’s a combination of the social graph and the interest graph done right.
Search is changing. As we get deeper into the digital connected community and people become more open with what they share, the wealth of information from people that we know and trust become more accessible and more relevant to us.
The challenge is for us as businesses and marketers is to understand how we can lavage this to deliver value back into our businesses.