Facebook, of all platforms, has revolutionized search as we know it. Yesterday, Facebook announced 'Graph Search', a new feature that helps us find people, places and things—and explore Facebook in a whole new way.
'Graph Search' pushes Facebook well beyond the social networking realm. It's a place to socialize and manage connections.
Eliminate the newsfeed, the goofy photos, snarky comments, and over-use of the 'Like Button', and it's all about connections.
Now, smart search will allow us to traverse connections, allow us to sort connections, and allow us to connect with a greater amount of people in different types of ways.
You live in California and come home to New Jersey to visit family. You want to find someone to hike with on Saturday during the day and someone to see a rock band with that night. You've been out of the area for awhile and aren't sure who's still in the area that would be interested in hiking or seeing the band with.
You can now search for 'Friends in New Jersey that like to hike' and 'Friends in New Jersey that like rock music' to quickly narrow the list down. This smart search will lead to more, serendipitous connections.
Google has spent years perfecting the art of connecting users with the information they seek. Facebook has taken the first step forward in connecting users with their friends, families, colleagues, and acquaintances, in smarter ways.
Facebook has created a searchable web, just as Google has been able to do. Is Facebook attempting to take on Google for share of search supremacy?
Will users who want to vacation to The Grand Canyon be more apt to searching Facebook, finding connections who have been there, and asking for trip recommendations? Or will they continue to search Google? Only time will tell.
Regardless, Facebook is creating a new type of search that will potentially serve as an additional revenue stream for the company.
Typing 'Friends who have completed a marathon' could yield a sidebar of ad units ranging from Running Sneakers, Electrolyte Replenishment Drinks, Quick-Dry Clothing, and even downloadable training guides.
Typing in a search query such as this ultimately tells Facebook that a marathon may be of interest to you - if it wasn't why would you have searched it? Right?
There's only so much big data available on the Facebook platform. Status updates, check-ins, photo and video captions, etc., only represent a portion of the social actions taken in a given day, week, month, etc.
Social platforms such as Yelp and Foursquare for example contain millions of check-ins and reviews that would be incredibly valuable to Facebook if they could be seamlessly integrated into Graph Search.
It would be a feat to be able to type in 'Friends that eat at Olive Garden' and see a listing of friends that have not only made an announcement of the visit on Facebook, but also a listing of friends that have written detailed reviews of it recently.
For every Foursquare or Yelp there is a comparable app - the Instagram (2012) and Gowalla (2011) acquisitions show that Facebook is able to recognize opportunity and quickly capitalize on it. Every one of the smaller social platforms just became a bit more important now that the social world can be searched.
What do you think? Do you think this is revolutionary? Do you see opportunity for advertisers? Think Foursquare and Yelp will be the next ones to be acquired?