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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.