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?

Brian Reilly

Published 16 January, 2013 by Brian Reilly

Brian Reilly is an Account Manager and Social Media Lead for Revolution Digital, a full-service digital shop in NJ. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

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Comments (6)

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David Rankin

this is social search with Facebook , so it's useful in that context. It's not a Google killer although it might make a dent on its search volumes. Likes become links which creates all sorts of challenges and opportunities for businesses

over 5 years ago

Paul North

Paul North, Head of Content and Strategy at Mediarun

I agree that this is a major change to search. In fact, it's a new area of search. Instead of a search engine returning a web page that contains the information you want, it works out the information you want and gives it to you. That is a big deal and something current search engines can't do.

Will Facebook's version succeed? Who knows? But this form of search has now been officially born and will sit alongside standard search from now on, I believe.

The winning social search engine will be the one with the access to the most social data. Right now, Google have to be in the best position. Facebook will hit a wall because people don't use it for everything online. No one uses a single website to do everything. So a truly useful social search engine will need to mine multiple sources of data to produce really useful results.

over 5 years ago



Very interesting - and a useful feature I could see myself using.

I'm surprised FB didn't acquire Foursquare prior to their public announcement of FB Search...

over 5 years ago


Brian Reilly

@David - It's not a Google killer per say. It will definitely make a dent in their search volume. If I want to do research on a trip to the Grand Canyon, I'd much rather talk to a friend or two who have been there, versus blindly reading reviews online. I think I'd check my social network first, before resorting to Google, at least for exploratory/preliminary searches.

@Paul - You said it yourself, the winner will be the one with the most amount of data. I think Google has more data in it's possession, but Facebook has more precise data, especially when it comes to interactions with the brands.

@Daniel - I feel the same way. Maybe they tried, who knows?

over 5 years ago

Philippa Gamse

Philippa Gamse, Adjunct Professor at Hult International Business School

My understanding is that there is an option to do a web search at the bottom of the FB results - using Bing. So it is giving you multiple sources - and of course, promoting Bing at the same time.

My prediction is that if this works out, it will see competition for Google search from FB, and for Adwords from greater use of Bing sponsored ads to target this audience.

I also predict that marketers will be under pressure to get even more "likes" from all of us - let's see how they try to get them!

over 5 years ago



FB's Graph Search might change things a bit, but the reason it will fade like other FB fads is that users are becoming resistant to sharing for the benefit of FB.

Even the younger crowd, prone to the narcissistic overshare, will eventually come to resent being the livestock of a data rancher.

over 5 years ago

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