Social and search, a match made in heaven?
In light of a shrinking user base and falling stock price, Facebook recently unveiled its new Graph Search functionality, whilst once again, cleverly hiding the option to remove one’s profile from search results.
Opinion is divided on exactly whether this new development will be a disaster or revolutionise search, one thing that is for sure – Facebook stalking has reached a whole new level!
We are the product
Google has already shown that search is the golden goose of online ad targeting, and that’s something Facebook desperately needs to build its profits. Graph Search is not for the users of Facebook; it simply makes them a bigger incentive for the advertisers. If Facebook create something people will use to search for products and businesses, then graph search could be significant (and that’s a big if).
The personal & professional line
However, the question remains as to whether this new service can be truly disruptive to other giants in their respective arenas, such as LinkedIn, eHarmony and of course, Google. Privacy is becoming an ever more contentious topic amongst Facebook’s user base, people are more wary then they were a few years ago. So whilst you may be able to find Friends who have visited a certain place, or who like a certain artist, there’s certain information that people will just not want to share on Facebook. For example, there is a very definite personal/professional line between Facebook and LinkedIn, and many people would be cautious of ‘friending’ a colleague, boss or recruiter on a platform like Facebook.
On a collision course?
As for the Google question, G+ has been slowly rising in active users over the past two years, and Google continues to fluidly integrate all of its services into it. Although it remains slightly unconvincing as a social network at the moment, G+ does tie your identity to its search, enabling delivery of brilliant results based on capture, storage and tuning of your history.
That being said, Facebook owns a treasure trove of data on its one billion users, which does give it predictive power. The idea that a social ‘page rank’ will give different weightings than a broad Google search could be valuable for a number of applications. Whether Facebook can harness that power, come up with meaningful results, and turn it into page views (and ultimately, profit), without compromising the user experience is the question that can only be answered in time.
How do you think Facebook’s new ‘third pillar’ will shape social search? Tweet us @Wirehive to let us know your view.