I was quoted in a recent Social Samosa post – on Facebook Graph Search. Do check it out on their website, it has useful thoughts from various others as well.
Given that it is a fairly large move, (third pillar, Facebook calls it) I thought I’ll add to my quote there. As a final goal, both Google and Facebook are trying to organise and display information to users, because contextually relevant information is still a means to revenue, especially in the era of information overload. Google crawls the web, and Facebook uses social connections as a means to gaining this information. Google is also trying to add social as a context, and Facebook has Bing’s support. It’s not a war now, but it’s definitely armament.
Facebook has tons of data to get this right, and this is dynamic data, thanks to the information we supply, and this is going to get better as Pages (and people) start optimising for Graph Search. Also, once the Open Graph is integrated and actions outside FB also start becoming data, it will become a larger treasure trove of information. Though there’s no advertising product in sight, I will wager that it is an advertising foray in the guise of a consumer tool. As I wrote in the article, Facebook now has the user’s intent broadly divided into 4 categories (people, places, photos and interests), along with his/her ‘influencers’. All of this will allow for some massive segmentation, and thus better targeted ads. And this is not necessarily evil, it can be damn useful because discoverability will be increased.
In terms of implication for brands, (like I said in the quote) brands with organic signals (eg. for a retail outlet, check in at a physical location) will have a starting advantage. Once the Open Graph kicks in, social actions on websites will become a huge advantage. Content marketing takes on added significance since every action on FB increases the chances of a brand being discovered. Oh yes, Like is a back with a vengeance! On a tangential note, recruiters could use Graph Search as a hiring tool.
It’s a long shot, but what would happen if Graph Search was thrown open to Pages. Think about it – as a page admin, I already have the ability to target my post to a certain level (about 7 parameters) but that’s really basic demographics. What if I were able to target (organically) (as Myntra) an Angry Birds t-shirt post at people in India who Like Angry Birds. (or even standard apparel brands)
Meanwhile, there are two immediate concerns. One – privacy. Users will, over a period of time, calibrate the information they supply to Facebook with the advantages of doing so, but it will be a difficult process. The second, I will highlight through a comment made by Romit on Twitter
Facebook Graph Searching. Could be powerful if many of my friends Like a lot of stuff they actually like.
— Romit Mehta (@TheRomit) January 21, 2013
But this is just version 1. I’m sure Facebook will have/build more signals inside the hood to filter data. Social just became even more interesting. For that. Facebook gets a thank you.
until next time, Like I said…