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The Facebook Graph Search cheat sheet

Posted by Danny Whatmough on 16th January 2013
The logo might look a bit sect-like and Zuck still needs to work on his facial expressions but, apart from these two insightful observations, the more I learn about Facebook’s Graph Search (that launched last night) the more impressed I am.
Want to impress everyone you might meet this week with some insightful observations about Facebook Graph Search? Look no further. Here are ten talking points / areas where I think there is massive potential for Facebook, the wider digital industry and all of us who try and make a living working in it:

1. Advertising 

Just as it has worked for Google. Accurate search + adverts = mountains of cash

2. Google v Facebook

Google should worry – social search is the long game that it has been playing for ages. The problem has always been that while Google has the search technology and the indexing power, it doesn’t have the social graph. Facebook does.

And now Facebook is taking first steps to use this to its advantage. That’s potentially huge. Is there more value in social graph or search technology?

Is this a Google/Google+ killer? Of course not. But the race is on. It’s all about owning more of your data. Google’s doing pretty well (even though it hasn’t tapped into it all yet – think how much time you spend on YouTube, Google Search, Android products…

Google is already making massive steps in the world of personalised search with products like Google Now and Knowledge Graph Search. This will still hurt Google though, especially as the two guys behind the product are ex-Googlers…

3. Sticky sites

Graph Search will make you hang around on the site longer. More eyeballs, more time on site = more cash.

4. The recommendation economy

For brands, the potential is clear. Recommendation is where it is all going. If you make cameras, you’ll soon want to be showing up in searches for ‘cameras my friends own’ as much as you’ll want to be showing up on the first page of Google.

5. Likes matter

Linked to the previous point, expect brands to begin to refocus their efforts on attracting ‘likes’. The more people that like your brand, the more chance you have of showing up in searches.

6. The Bing thing

This could be a big shot in the arm for Bing. Searches that don’t return results will divert to a Bing search.

7. Don’t ask

Usually, the easiest way to get recommendations from social media connections is to ask and wait for a response. Graph Search takes the need to ask away and makes social media more useful for all of us.

Of course, brands have been using social graph data from Facebook for market research for some time. I’d expect that to grow and become another important revenue source for Facebook (if not also another privacy headache).

8. Location rules

I’ve been banging on about how slow Facebook has been to jump into the location game. But Graph Search could finally usher in the Foursquare killing era that many have predicted. Location clearly will play a big part in Graph Search (restaurants my friends like in London).

Facebook nearby, which launched last month (created by the guys from Gowalla) was a clear step in this direction too. I still think a Facebook / Foursquare acquisition would make total sense.

9. The web as a social layer

As I’ve been saying with Google+ for ages, we are moving to a stage where social networks stop becoming a platform and start becoming the underlying fabric of the whole internet. This is another step in this direction.

10. The personal web

Again, this has been coming for some time; social search brings the personal web back into play. Just as Google has been doing with ‘search plus your world’ increasingly, the view of the web you get will be tailor made for you and your preferences, often based on your interactions with those you trust and ‘friend’.

Oh, and one last thing: the stock market shouldn’t be trusted to judge innovation

Danny Whatmough