Facebook Graph Search: First Look

A little earlier today I got access to Facebook Graph Search. This quick post is just a collection of “raw thoughts” and first impressions. My immediate reaction was positive overall, however.

Graph search isn’t a replacement for Google but it could be a primary choice in some cases for Facebook users looking for recommendations.

Graph Search suggestions

The Graph Search bar sits at the top of the screen and is persistent. This has the potential to dramatically change the way people use Facebook. One way people will likely come to use it is to identify friends and contacts who may have stayed at, eaten at or gone places and message those people for more information. (This is not something that one can readily do on Google.)

The following screenshot shows a search result for “restaurants in San Francisco.” It’s an attractive SERP and quite different from a Google SERP. If you click through you obviously get the business’ Facebook Page. It will thus become imperative for businesses that don’t have Facebook Pages to create them and those that do to enrich and further develop those Pages.

Graph Search Restaurants

Search refinements are in a module on the right. I can refine by place type, food category and other criteria (in this restaurant scenario). I can also filter based on whether people in my network (including specific individuals) have liked and/or visited the place in question.

Graph Search refinements

If I search on something that isn’t within the scope of Graph Search (e.g., plumbers) I’ll get Bing results. This is significant because people are going to start searching on anything and everything to see what happens and what comes up. It avoids the “no results” problem that might have undermined getting users to “come back” to Graph Search.

Facebook users are almost certainly not going to stay within the boundaries and categories defined by Facebook. People are going to think of this broadly as search with “friend recommendations” or “like Google but I can see if my friends liked it.”

Bing on Graph Search

The Bing-powered “web results” screen above is actually a pretty good experience. Some folks have predicted that Microsoft will be the big winner from Graph Search. We’ll see but there will probably be millions more queries coming Microsoft’s way as a result.

My quick summary of my initial reactions is the following:

  • Facebook Graph Search is off to a fairly strong start in selected categories
  • People will use it but in tandem with other things: Google, Yelp, vertical search, etc.
  • Graph Search will be expanded and improved, but version 1.0 is good enough to “come back for”
  • The local emphasis of Graph Search 1.0, combined with Nearby, could make Facebook a major player in local in the near term
  • Microsoft and Bing will gain from this although it won’t help the Bing brand or direct Bing usage very much

If anyone else has tried Graph Search let me know what you think. I’ll have more to say after I’ve used it more extensively but I wanted to get these “first thoughts” out.

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4 Responses to “Facebook Graph Search: First Look”

  1. Darby Sieben says at

    Greg – I got my access this past weekend and for the most part I am impressed. I think some people are going to get very uncomfortable with how their data is now exposed. The one feature that I found very interesting and yet voyeuristic is the Discover Something New – that really shows what data elements FB is using to build out its social graph. 

    One thing I tested, it would not index my foursquare checkins that I posted to Facebook. However, if you check in on Facebook, it becomes searchable right away. I find myself checking in more at Facebook or tagging posts with location more in the past week than I have before. Will be interesting to see if this has a big impact on FourSquare. 

  2. Greg Sterling says at

    As I mentioned previously regarding Facebook Nearby I do think Foursquare is vulnerable to some of these new Facebook capabilities. I also agree with you that Graph Search will likely increase engagement with Facebook for some number of people.

  3. Builder says at

    Do you think that Angies List could be vulnerable to this move by Facebook?

    Angies List is all about getting trusted reviews from others close to you. Effectively Facebook are creating a social business directory here that could/would do a better job of that (and for free).

  4. Greg says at

    Right now: no. But over time possibly. The way I see it, Graph Search will be one more place to check or start. It won’t be alpha and omega. But it could be a significant influencer. 

  5. Facebook Graph Search FactsNiche Blogging Ideas says at

    […] Facebook Graph Search: First Look Graph search isn’t a replacement for Google but it could be a primary choice in some cases for Facebook users looking for recommendations. Quick summary of my initial reactions is the following: -Facebook Graph Search is off to a fairly strong start in selected categories -People will use it but in tandem with other things: Google, Yelp, vertical search, etc. -Graph Search will be expanded and improved, but version 1.0 is good enough to “come back for” -The local emphasis of Graph Search 1.0, combined with Nearby, could make Facebook a major player in local in the near term -Microsoft and Bing will gain from this although it won’t help the Bing brand or direct Bing usage very much  More […]

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