Graph Search is Facebook’s debut in to the search engine market. Although CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has made a point of emphasizing that the new tool is “not Web search,” many have speculated that Graph Search is the social media website’s attempt to compete with their biggest competitor, Google, in the market for search.
Unlike Google’s Penguin algorithm, Graph Search relies on social interactions made on Facebook to make up the database of information it can pull from. Rather than prioritizing results based off of keywords and shares across the web, it will operate through every user’s individual network and the social information it can collect through them on the social media site. Also unique to Graph Search is its capability of reading inquiries in natural language. So rather than using search operations to differentiate the kind of content you are looking for, the application will be able to procure information about people, photos, places, and interests based off the relationships between the words you enter.
Because Graph Search relies on data collected from your Facebook friends, it can function only as well as the information supplied by them. This will create the biggest obstacle in establishing “the third pillar” of Facebook as an indispensible part of the social network. Today’s savvy social media users understand that when they choose to “like” a business’s page, they are subscribing to receive content put forth by those businesses on their News Feeds forever more. This has lead a lot of users to reel in their use of the “like” button when it comes to interacting with businesses on a social platform they reserve mostly for their real-life contacts.
The more you and your friends interact on Facebook the more data the Graph will have to work with. As Graph Search slowly rolls out in Beta, Facebook is hoping that the search benefits of the tool will be enough to increase users’ levels of engagement. As well as stealing audiences away from SoLoMo apps like FourSquare and Yelp, the recently released “check in” and “deals” functions will work hand in hand towards reaching Facebook’s engagement goals as the network accumulates more and more information about where your friends are and what they’re doing. Also beefing up the Graph’s searching capabilities will be the incorporation of Microsoft’s Bing search results. Oh, did I mention that Microsoft owns a 1.6% share of Facebook? If this isn’t considered Web search now, it will be soon enough.
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As well as making the product more useful to Facebookers, the abundance of SoLoMo data that will be collected from these functions is going to make mobile advertising via Facebook a very attractive option for marketers. That and its rumored plans to acquire Microsoft’s ad-serving business, Atlas. Going head to head with Google’s new spin on Adwords with its device agnostic ad-targeting tool, “Adwords Enhanced Campaigns,” these Internet giants are racing to win share of the new mobile advertising market. In doing so, they are giving wind to the SoLoMo movement and democratizing big data in favor of small business.
What does this mean for SMBs?
If Facebook’s Graph Search takes off, it will present a huge opportunity for SMBs to grow their businesses through integrated digital marketing. In fact, now that Facebook and Google are getting involved, businesses won’t have a choice but to help their advertising platforms succeed by producing content worth engaging with.
Facebook’s social search engine is yet another example of the future of advertising. In 2013, the businesses that will succeed are the ones that are getting social, thinking local, and spending on mobile.