Facebook Unveils ‘Graph’ to the World

Yesterday speculation was rampant about what Facebook would announce to the world at its mystery press event. The event came and went yesterday afternoon and to the delight of those who predicted it, Facebook announced their new Facebook Graph search engine. Like many announcements of this nature, we now have more questions than we started with. Facebook Graph is a different search engine and one that, if embraced by users, will change Facebook forever.

What is Facebook Graph?

After Mark Zuckerberg made his announcement and demo of Facebook Graph, bloggers, journalists, and analysts went crazy. Posts filled up tech and news sites alike all afternoon and into this morning. One of the best discussions of exactly what Facebook Graph is comes from Owen Thomas last night on Business Insider. He writes, “This is not Google Web search—it’s something completely different.”

Ok, so that’s not a very clear description, but bear with me. Knowing that Facebook Graph isn’t Google Search says a lot already about the new product. What Facebook’s team has created is a search with personality, a human search engine based on your connections, your information on Facebook, and your social network. The platform even helps you create more natural queries.

Facebook Graph “looks at your connections and interests to come up with relevant results for people” and much more.  As Lance Ulanoff writes on Mashable, “sentiment is now part of the search engine.” I’ll admit I was a little skeptical about privacy and how well Facebook Graph would work when the announcement first came out, but seeing the op-ed pieces throughout the day I started to become a bit more intrigued by the concept.

Facebook Graph truly could be the next evolution in search. It could only come from a social media platform like Facebook too. I don’t see any possibility of it eclipsing or becoming serious competition for Google any time soon, even with Bing integration. For now, Facebook Graph is something entirely different, off to the side and in its own world. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be useful for users and businesses alike.

What Facebook Graph Means for Marketing

While I’m sure there will be oodles written about Facebook Graph in the near-future, it’s important now to think about what its impact could be on marketing. A social search is something new to the game of online marketing for agencies, and businesses small and large alike.

Analysts are already seeing dollar signs for Facebook. A Reuters piece reports, “Facebook could add $500 million in annual revenue if it can generate just one paid click per user per year.” That’s a lot of money for something that seems easily possible. This is good for Facebook’s stock, but the way Graph search works is also good for businesses.

Users will be able to learn about businesses, products, and services that those in their networks have used or visited. This is an entirely different way for people to get information about something. It’s like Yelp but personal. How well engaged your customers are in your Facebook presence will play an important role in your business’ chances of being seen on search.

Francesca Fenzi at Inc has a list of three important changes that will come about with Facebook Graph. One of which is the fact that “word-of-mouth recommendations are going to be even more powerful” since users can search and get information they trust “without actually having a word-of-mouth conversation.” That’s unique, new, and will make for an interesting future for Facebook Graph.

What do you think about Facebook Graph? Do you see Facebook Graph becoming an important part of the user experience online and how businesses interact with Facebook?

 

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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