Why Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ Is a gamechanger

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.

Foursquare grows to 15m users

Foursquare has announced that it has grown to 15m users, more than tripling its community in the last 12 months.

The location-based gaming platform says that half of its users are in the
US, while the other half are international, as reported by ClickZ.

This marks a year of strong growth for Foursquare, during which it secured $50m of venture capital funding  that put a value of around $600m on the company.

Facebook hires team behind Gowalla

After days of speculation, Facebook has confirmed that it has hired Gowalla cofounders Josh Williams and Scott Raymond.

The pair, who founded the location based social networking site in Texas, will move to California to join Facebook’s design and engineering team in January along with other Gowalla employees.

Facebook said in a statement that it isn’t acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, but was sure that “that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time”.

Facebook launches location-based Deals – will users actually redeem them?

Facebook logoThere’s a tug-of-war going on between location-based
technology advocates and, well, the rest of the online population. Just 4% of
online Americans are actually using location-based services, according to new data
Pew Internet. That paltry adoption hasn’t stopped startups like
Foursquare and Gowalla from trying to entice advertisers to offer deals on
their location-based platforms.

Now Facebook has entered the fray with its new “Deals” offering,
which gives users exclusive deals when they check in at stores. Is it

The rocky road ahead for Facebook Places

As a big fan of location-based applications (I’m currently ‘checking in’ at various locations on five different apps…!) I have of course been watching the launch and subsequent spread of Facebook Places with great interest.

Now that the first batch of dust has had a chance to settle, I wanted to look in a bit more detail at some of the hurdles ‘Places’ may face in the coming months, if past experience is to be believed.

Should Facebook let others check you into “Places”?

Facebook’s foray into location-based services launched last night. And while Places borrows heavily from existing services available on Yelp, Foursquare and Gowalla, one difference is the way that Facebook plans to grow its new product.

Facebook Places check-ins will be shared with users’ entire network of friends. And if users wish, they can check other people into locations. Perhaps predictably, there are some privacy issues with this approach. But it ensures that people who may not otherwise interact with Places are sure to know it exists. And unless objections arise, Facebook’s appraoach should be great for user adoption.

Foursquare and IFC make mobile check-ins a little more useful

Foursquare is getting a leg up in the geo-location wars. And I’m not talking about its recent cash infusion of $20 million — though that certainly won’t hurt. Today, the company announced a partnership with the Independent Film Channel that will help populate Foursquare with IFC approved tips and information. 

If Foursqaure wants to broaden its user base — a must if it expects to break out of its niche demographic of techie fans — this is exactly the kind of content strategy the company needs.

Location based services – where next?

Location offers businesses of all sizes a real opportunity to streamline
and improve their entire customer experience, fully integrating web and
print offers with simple, convenient payment and collection options. Coupons are a good start, but it remains to be seen which companies will
make the most of location.

In the geo-location wars, the next step will be content

Geo-location is a hot ticket item right now, with companies large and small getting into the social check-in game. But the gaming features of are only one aspect of geo-location. According to the founders of Gowalla and Foursquare, geo-targeting is going places with all that information their companies are collecting.

At TWTRCON in New York on Monday, the “Right Time, Right Place” panelists were focused on what comes after socializing via geo-location.