Today, Facebook rolled out a new tool called Graph Search. My immediate reaction is that it will provide users with a limited search tool within Facebook that cannot possibly compete with Google and its 70 percent market share in search. However, after reading more about it, I think the feature has some real potential.
Read on to find out how the feature works and why I believe it has a chance to compete with Google.
What is Graph Search?
In the simplest terms, Facebook’s Graph Search allows users to search within Facebook for photos, places and locations. For example, if I want to search for all my friends that live in California I will be able to easily do this with Graph Search by typing in, "Friends who live in California."
This tool would have been nice to use last week during some vacation time in San Diego. It could have helped me remember to meet a college friend who recently moved to the area for a new job. I learned that later along with his recommendations on places to visit. His recommendations included a new restaurant on the beach with a pristine view of the ocean. I imagine that choice was a more romantic option than the Mexican restaurant I took my girlfriend to in the city.
Before Graph Search, finding answers to questions like that was a grueling and manual process. There really is no easy way except by visiting individual profile pages to see where people live or businesses they've visited. The latter part is where I see the most opportunity.
Why Graph Search will be successful?
The reason I believe Facebook Graph Search has the opportunity to compete with Google is that Facebook is providing not only the search tool but also the recommendations of your friends. For example, if I look for a place to eat in Dallas, I can simply type in: "Restaurants my friends have been to in Dallas." Not only will restaurants appear in my search results but so will recommendations by my friends. What’s more powerful: A listing of local restaurants or a listing of local restaurants that my friends have been to and recommend?
The question now becomes: How will Facebook monetize Graph Search? I think it will work similar to Google’s model where advertisers can buy keyword searches which will give them a chance of having a display ad show up on the sidebar of Facebook. I will be interested to see how creative Facebook can get with the revenue model.
When will Graph Search be Available?
Graph Search is still in beta testing and there is no launch date.
How can I sign up for Graph Search?
You can sign up for the beta testing here.
And keep checking back here for a review of the feature once I get access.