Facebook has, for a while, been trying to work out how it can translate it huge unique user base, currently 32 million in the UK, into useful, profitable and enterprising information.
Useful – because people’s personal preferences for a specific product or service, aligned with information about their background and social allegiances, culminate into something that marketers and advertisers will fall over themselves for. Facebook, as yet, has not provided a platform where this can be used commercially.
Profitable – because Facebook is like any company; it needs an income. There has been much press about how it has struggled to make the most of it’s information resources and turn it into hard cash.
Enterprising – because while Facebook was ‘cool’, it could attract new sign ups easily and effortlessly but now that it has been around for a while, that sign up rate is slowing, so it needs to find new ways to remain on the curve of the contemporary.
However, with their press statement regarding the impending launch of an exciting new Beta, Graph Search, perhaps Facebook has found an answer to those three problems.
Graph Search will allow users to enter specific queries which will provide insightful answers from the millions of mountains of information that float around the Facebook-sphere.
So what does it mean?
People will be able to enter searches such as ‘photos of my friends taken before1990’, and be shown comprehensive results relating to their query. They will also be able to search for establishments such as restaurants in a specific location that have been ‘liked’ by their friends.
The marketing side of Graph Search has been considered as well; Tom Stocky, a Facebook executive, revealed some of the market insights that the tool highlighted. It compared the music tastes of those users that supported Barack Obama against those that supported Mitt Romney, unveiling preferences for Michael Jackson and Johnny Cash respectively. The possibilities could be endless.
Without doubt, Graph Search promises to be an exciting new chassis on which both users and marketers change the way they use Facebook.
But what is Facebook really trying to do here? Besides becoming more useful, more profitable and more enterprising?
They are launching a product that could, if potential is fulfilled, take people away from the behemoth that is Google. Depending on the relevance of the search results and the user experience, Facebook could have just announced a potential game changer in Search Marketing, which could seriously challenge Google’s local and social search results.
Indeed, the gauntlet has been thrown down, as if a user’s search query doesn’t display any results, they are shown a Bing results page. It is obvious who is on whose side.
The implications of Graph Search remain to be seen, but in the meantime, marvel at the possibilities.