On the 15th of January Facebook revealed its new search feature that is designed to both help users reach out and sort through information in their social network without leaving the site and to help the company better monetize its huge billion strong user base in order to bolster its stock and investor confidence. In a highly secretive conference the social media giant announced the new Graph feature with great fanfare.
Mark Zuckerberg described the company’s approach to organizing data and providing a desirable user experience as part of a three-pillar system. One is the Timeline that organizes user data chronologically, the second is the stream that provides real-time access to things other users have posted and the third is the new Graph, a in-Facebook search engine designed to provide results similar if not better than traditional search engines directly from within Facebook. Presumably this would work thanks to the ubiquity of likes and check-ins for everything from shows to dentists. The new search feature would also include picture search from within your friends’ pictures. And, at least in theory, Graph is very privacy minded.
The feature might be quite a good one in the long run but the question is what is Graph’s potential to return revenue for Facebook? Zuckerberg claims that ‘it could be a business over time but that they are focusing on building a good experience for now’. And yet, the team that handled the development was headed by two top technicians poached from Google so there was obviously quite a bit of development money funneled into the Graph project. There must be a revenue aspect to it. The project is user centric but it is partnered with Microsoft Bing’s search so there is a potential advertising revenue angle there. And any search engine agency worth it’s salt will be fiddling with Graph as soon as gets a glance at it trying to see if there is a optimization or marketing angle to the new Facebook search. So far it seems that there isn’t any way for an outside source to influence Graph’s ratings but, the social value of Facebook likes will probably expand quite a bit in the near future.
Graph might finally be the way that Facebook manages to put its giant user base and the information it imparts to good use for both other users and the company. However, as we all saw from the promoted post backlash as well as from the rabid responses to many a Facebook layout change the user base can be quite unruly and resistant to invasive features. If Graph is to catch on it has to be slowly implemented and accepted by the user base instead of being imposed from up high.
What do you think about Facebook Graph Search? Do share your opinion in the comment section, we’ll be glad to hear from you.