What does Facebook’s Graph Search Mean for Businesses?

From what I can tell, not much, yet. But, if we dig a little, we might be able to uncover a few nuggets. It’s still very early in the game – Facebook could be releasing Graph Search to the general public in order to capitalize mass usage, essentially, a huge QA network – and then tweak and perfect it’s approach and ready it for businesses willing to pay big bucks for the service. That’s my first assumption, here are a few more:

  • Facebook Graph SearchGraph Search “allows people to use the graph to make new connections”
    • Sounds just like Facebook ad manager’s ability to search for interests, locations, age, etc… nothing new hear.
  • “Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook. We believe they have very different uses.”
    • Hmmm, different uses… yes. Facebook seems to be differentiating itself from a Google search, ok… can we infer they are differentiating themselves from a Google PPC, as well?
    • Using FB’s ad manager we are inherently searching inside of Facebook’s graph, so… nothing new here either, but my inference above, albeit a stretch, is at the very least a viable conversation point.
  • “We’ve built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”
    • Ok, but Facebook ads don’t necessarily respect privacy settings, in that an advertiser can’t see who the person is that likes a certain thing, but the advertiser can still reach that person and market to them. So, again, nothing new here. I’m starting to wonder if this is all just ground work being laid down for what’s to come…

Let’s look at Graph Search’s four main search areas — people, photos, places, and interests.

  • People: “friends who live in my city,” “people from my hometown who like hiking,” “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park,” “software engineers who live in San Francisco and like skiing,” “people who like things I like,” “people who like tennis and live nearby”
    • Hmmm, I’m seeing some business value here. “friends of friends who have been to Yosemite National Park”… this is new, this could bring the concept of Check-In’s to Facebook ads. Marketers could potentially target people who have checked into a location, but not necessarily have “Liked” that location. Ok, I’m interested.
  • Facebook Graph SearchPhotos: “photos I like,” “photos of my family,” “photos of my friends before 1999,” “photos of my friends taken in New York,” “photos of the Eiffel Tower”
    • Here’s another bonus for marketers: deliver ads to groups of people for example: where 2 or more people are tagged in the same picture. So, your ad for a summer rental house can be delivered to all friends who were tagged in a single beach picture. Nice, cluster marketing, cool.
  • Places: “restaurants in San Francisco,” “cities visited by my family,” “Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India,” “tourist attractions in Italy visited by my friends,” “restaurants in New York liked by chefs,” “countries my friends have visited”
    • And some more value here: Imagine targeted ads that quickly respond to check-ins or geo location data from pictures and status updates. A marketer could offer up ads based on proximity to a location, or time of day, or both. A visitor checked into a tourist attraction in Italy, but the user is really from Chicago – clearly, she’s on vacation, and checking into Facebook. So, deliver an ad or two for that Chicagoan, in English, for something near the original checkin location. Way to offer businesses quick access to people who are in the mindset of experiencing new things, on a short time frame, and who have expendable cash.
  • Interests: “music my friends like,” “movies liked by people who like movies I like,” “languages my friends speak,” “strategy games played by friends of my friends,” “movies liked by people who are film directors,” “books read by CEOs”
    • What if you were presented with ads for “books read by CEOs” that are perfectly in tune with your current job description or current academic track? Chances are you’d be more interested in that, than some random offer for Tony Robbins book.

So, it looks like there could be some business value hidden in this new Facebook Graph Search. Although I made a few, ok, a lot of assumptions above, I’m in for watching this space to see how it pans out. What do you think?

Jareau AlmeydaWhat does Facebook’s Graph Search Mean for Businesses?