Last january, Facebook made a press release about its new upcoming function : graph search.
Today, Facebook is “more than a billion people, more than 240 billion photos and more than a trillion connections”. Time has come for the social network to offer a way to make those connections more useful, and somehow more profitable.
Already available in beta version, graph search should allow you to launch personalized researches. In opposition to a web search, this new feature does not focus only on keywords, but considers the full combination of the words contained in the research, and leads you to various types of contents previously shared through Facebook. Hence, the results provided are highly targeted and custom, all the more as each person gets specific and unique results.
So basically, when you’ll launch a research, Facebook graph search will go through all of your friends on Facebook, and provide results as far as people, places or pictures are concerned. For example, instead of going through each profile one by one seeking for an information, graph search will gather all the results in one place, according to the terms of your search, and will allow you to have a general overview, faster and better.
Bright sides ? Going deeper into your Facebook friends experiences and getting more tips and recommandations without even asking (restaurants, hotels and other places of interest for example). You can also identify all your friends living in a particular city (if you plan to visit for example), see who likes a specific music band, or sort all the pictures taken by your friends by topic or place.
Concerns ? Privacy of course (as often with Facebook…). As privacy settings happen to change a bit somehow, it matters to keep yourself posted on what changes and when, and on how to keep control of your informations. As graph search will access your informations and display them on search results, make sure your privacy settings are up to date with your own requirements as far as sharing with your friends is concerned.
Facebook is also already trying some ads on graph search, though they’re not specifically targeted on the topic you launched the search for. Actually, these ads, appearing with graph search results (at the bottom), are still targeted like regular current Facebook ads (based on your likes and open graph activity, and of course your age, the place you live in, and your gender).
We don’t know yet if Facebook will sooner or later let advertisers and brands reach people directly thanks to users graph researches, but this option would be huge in terms of marketing. Indeed, it would mean that, for example, if you search “friends who’ve been to a restaurant in Phnom Penh”, the ads suggested to you could be some from a restaurant actually located in Phnom Penh. All of this meaning those ads could target consumers in a very accurate way.
As for now, Facebook has dedicated a page to help businesses understand how they could benefit from graph search, you can read it here.
To discover ideas and engineering behind graph search, you can watch the following video :