Facebook’s latest tool, Graph Search, was announced a couple of weeks ago and it is being rolled out through the Facebook0sphere through February. Though many wondered if Facebook were challenging Google, the fact is Facebook is trying to rejigger how you can access information within Facebook, not how you wend your way through the tubes of the internet.
Facebook’s own introduction emphasizes the concept that the billions of connected bits of information within people’s Facebook accounts can now be viewed along a graph of variables that the user asks for:
The main way we make the world more open and connected is by giving people the tools to map out their relationships with the people and things they care about. We call this map the graph … There are already more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections. Today we’re announcing a new way to navigate these connections and make them more useful. We’re calling it Graph Search.
What does the Graph Search mean to the average user or nonprofit on Facebook?
The first thing to note, as Tom Edwards did at the Digitally Approved blog, is that the features of Graph Search (and, we would add, any future developments from the social-networking giant) “eventually play into the Facebook revenue model. Initially this will be an ad free feature, but make no mistake, by further aligning interests with broader behaviors beyond a profile, it will help to enable personalization as a search and interest overlay and will become an even more accurate tool to re-target relevant ads.” Forewarned is forearmed.
Though Graph Search is not at all a competitor to a Google search, it is going to make things really tough of Google+. The latter’s service offers Google+ users opportunity to ‘+1′ the shops, restaurants, sites, services… they like, and − presumably − others within one’s Google+ Circle will see their Google searches tweaked to reflect what their friends like/recommend. But such tweaking can hardly be found (so far) and is thus mostly irrelevant to users of either a generic Google search or a search including their Google+ account.
With Graph Search, no one needs to change what they are doing on Facebook already. But searching through Facebook can be honed down by using natural language like “Sushi restaurants in DC that my friends like”. You’ll get some sushi restaurants in the nation’s capital that have Facebook pages (remember Tom’s point about ever more personalized ads) and any comments, photos, ‘Likes’, and responses to these made by your friends.
What is an organization to do with this newfangled Graph Search? For sure, take this opportunity to make sure all your information on your page(s) is up-to-date and correct. Avoid any empty boxes that could be filled with data that someone might want to search for. Tag all your photos too. If you’ve been keeping quiet on Facebook with the winter holidays and the Ravens Super Bowl victory (a shout-out to our local Baltimore readers!), time to get updating too.
And please remember Graph Search will not just for interaction with your site (even if that interaction is to flame your latest outreach efforts). Graph Search will lean heavily toward those who interact positively with your organization. People will be wanting to know who likes what and where more than who didn’t bother to comment on the Facebook page they visited. Make your page relevant and engaging and interactive.
Next week, we’ll discuss some specific steps to get your Facebook prepped for Graph Search as well as some privacy concerns that have been raised about it.