Why Facebook Graph Search is Unique

Detective Small
Posted on Mar 14th 2013

As we’ve discussed in recent blogs, Facebook has recently launched Graph Search, a move that suggests the world’s favourite social network is at last getting serious about search. However, although it may look like Facebook is finally stepping up to challenge its rivals; the new search product offers something completely different to Google or any other traditional search engine out there. 

Links Vs. Likes
We use traditional search engines to search for web pages. Each time we make a Google search, links from across the web (amongst other things) are the connections which determine which pages appear near to the top of search results. Facebook Graph Search, however, is used not to search for web pages but for real world stuff: people we know in real life, places and things. In this case the connections are not links but Facebook Likes.  Did your friends like a particular photo? A certain restaurant or hotel? These ‘likes’ are the connecting information that make up Facebook Search Graph.

Multi-layer Searching
Graph Search gives users the ability to refine their searches much more than Google or any other search engine allows. For instance, a Google search will simply show you the web pages of hotels in Broadbeach, Gold Coast – a pretty single dimensional view. A Facebook search on the other hand will show you hotels in Broadbeach liked by your friends. And if you’re interested, hotels in Broadbeach liked by your single friends, or yourmarried friends, or your friends that work in a certain profession...Of course, if you spend some time refining your search on Google+ Local, you can do something similar. Google will show you hotels liked by your friends or by those similar to you- but you don’t get the multi-dimensional layers of refinement that Facebook’s new product makes possible. 

The Potential
The potential of Facebook Graph Search as a referral marketing tool is huge. Instead of asking the opinion of friends and people you trust each time you need a hotel, an electrician, a new hairdresser or dentist, you can simply search for businesses that are popular within your whole social circle within a few clicks of the mouse. Of course, this all depends on whether those businesses and professionals have an active Facebook presence themselves, and whether their customers have taken the time to “Like” them. Without these likes as connecting ties, Graph Search will not be of much use, something which Facebook themselves have acknowledged. Tom Stocky, Facebook’s director of project management has noted that the publicity surrounding the new search product should encourage people to engage more with the businesses and services they like on Facebook, but admits that to start with at least, user’s experience of Graph Search will vary widely. 

Improved Facebook Search
Even if Graph Search doesn’t work out as the kind of Yelp-style personal recommendations engine we’re hoping for straight away, at the very least, it promises an improved way to search on Facebook. For instance, people will be able to search for and view a collection of all the photos they’ve ever liked, something which hasn’t been possible before now. 

Facebook’s “Third View”
Facebook insiders have described Graph Search as a new, third way for users to view Facebook. They can already see the things that are directly related to them on their timeline, while their newsfeed gives an overview of what’s happening with friends. Graph Search offers users a third, “search view” which they can use to see whatever they like. One thing’s for sure, Graph Search - which is also the first ever Facebook product with a waiting list attached- is a unique proposition in the world of search. It will be interesting to see how things develop from here. 

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