By MIKE GINGERICH
Facebook made a major announcement this week of a new search feature called “Graph Search.” This new search tool is releasing in beta to Facebook users shortly.
In short, Graph Search is a new way for Facebook users to find people, photos, places and things of interest that are most relevant to them. It is a tool that persons will use while on Facebook. It is not a “search engine” like Bing or Google.
The tool is intended to be a “smart search” that allows Facebook users to ask questions and get results from their network of friends and Pages they “Like” on Facebook. It is a different model than Google’s search as that takes into account everything on the web. Rather, Graph Search by Facebook seeks to give you personalized and relevant results based on what your friends and social network have posted on Facebook.
Example searches that will be able to give personalized results include queries such as:
• Chinese restaurants in Chicago that my friends have Liked
• Dentists that my friends like
• Who are my friends that went to Bethel College?
• Show pictures of my friends at Indianapolis Colts games
• Businesses that my friends recommend for home remodeling
• Photos that I Liked in 2011
If you did a web search on Google or Bing for those items, you’d get one set of results that is general, such as “Chinese restaurants in Chicago.” However, with Graph Search on Facebook, a user will get tailored results based on their social network. If your friend checked in at a Chinese restaurant in Chicago and noted that they liked the food, that would be part of the results. The value lies in the fact that we trust the recommendations of friends, and this gives us another way to quickly get the perspective of our entire friend network on Facebook.
A key item to note is that Graph Search starts with privacy in mind. If a Facebook user has something set to private, then this data is not part of searchable results. So the results a Facebook users gets with Graph Search are filtered according to what is public and accessible to you as a user based on the settings your friends used when they posted. If they set it to private, you can’t see it. If they set it to “friends,” then it could be in your results, and if they set the post to “public” then anyone searching could have their input included as part of the search results.
To get started with this new tool, go to facebook.com/graphsearch and click the button at the bottom to sign up for beta (or begin using it if you already have access). Starting last Tuesday, Facebook is rolling Graph Search out slowly, but more people should get it in the coming weeks and months. Signing up means you’ll get it sooner.
The overall value is more personalized and relevant search results based on a Facebook users friend network and Pages they have Liked. Who doesn’t trust recommendations from trusted friends? Now the process of getting that recommendation has been made much simpler!
Mike Gingerich leads the Social Application division of web design company, Digital Hill Multimedia (http://www.DigitalHill.com). He is a co-founder of TabSite.com, a leader in Facebook fan page tools for businesses. TabSite offers brands the power to boost Facebook marketing. For more information on TabSite, please visit www.tabsite.com.