After a snowy commute home from work, and a bit of dinner, I logged in to get an update on today’s NHL scores, check on the last couple of hour’s social media activity, and begin writing a new blog post.
When I logged into Facebook I was met with a notification above my News Feed for a Graph Search tutorial, and that it was available to be used. Let me tell you, I feel like a kid on Wednesday!
Are you thinking, ‘Damn! Why don’t I have access to Graph Search?!?’
If you don’t have access to Graph Search, it’s currently in beta and you have to be a big shot to get an invitation to participate. Okay, okay – I’m kidding. Simply navigate to Facebook here, scroll to the bottom of the page, and click the large button that reads, ‘Try Graph Search’. Pretty simple. It took a couple of days for me to be given access, so hopefully it will be equally as speedy for you.
First things first, I’ve been using Graph Search for all of about 25 minutes, so this is by no means a comprehensive review, just a few initial observations and impressions, all of which are from a user’s point of view.
For the first time, I’m using Facebook with a sense of discovery
One of the things I love about Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and other social media networks is that I can discover content, easily meet new people, and participate in discussions without directly knowing those I’m interacting with, or the people behind the content with which I’m engaging.
Historically with Facebook, much of my engagement has been with people I’ve met in the real world, and with businesses, brands and organizations with which I’ve had real world experience.
All of the information we give to Facebook is finally being used to enhance our experience with the platform. Tonight, because of Graph Search, I’ve been using Facebook with a sense of discovery. I’m learning things about my ‘friends’ – what they’re into, what we have in common, groups of friends who might have like interests, and on. I’m browsing photos in a more meaningful way, not having to creep each of my friends’ photos one at a time. And, I’m able to already see that if I needed to tap my social graph for information or advice, I’d be able to do a search that would help me identify the most qualified people to engage. In short, I like what this adds to my Facebook experience, and I’m looking forward to digging into it further.
Design changes are minimal, but smart
Graph Search is located in the omnipresent blue notification bar that sits at the top of your page. The old Facebook logo that sat on the left hand side has been replaced with a white ‘F’ icon with the words, ‘Search for people, places and things’, directly beside.
There have been some additional small design changes made, but nothing really worthy of note.
Overall, the design adjustments work nicely, and the location of the search field will be convenient to use. I’m thankful that Graph Search is predominantly located as I can already see this being a useful tool.
Search hasn’t been completely reinvented, which is good
The search itself feels good. It works precisely how it has been explained in every blog post you’ve read about Facebook’s latest pillar. ‘My friends who play hockey’ yields, a list of your friends who play hockey. ‘Photos of my friends taken in China’ yields – you guessed it – photos of your friends that were taken in China. Everything is how you’d expect it to be.
I’m anticipating there being a short learning curve to get fully acquainted with all of Facebook’s search operators, but it’s also very intuitive.
In the near future, I believe that Graph Search will be a tool that is synonymous with the Facebook experience. We’ll reflect on a time when the platform seemed archaic for not giving users the tools required to filter through the gaggles of information that is already clumsily available. And, we will see the power that can be wielded when the shared experiences of our social graphs is properly organized, searchable and tapped.
What are your initial impressions of Graph Search?
How do you think Graph Search will affect your Facebook experience?
Do you think Graph Search will have any implications for businesses or brands on Facebook? If so, what?
It would be amazing to hear and respond to your thoughts in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
For related reading, check out my post, Facebook Graph Search: Implications For Businesses And Brands
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Earlier this week Facebook announced Graph Search, a tool that will allow users to search the social media site for people, interests, places and photos. Unique to Graph Search, every user’s search results will be based on the connections and interactions of their first and second-degree connections – friends, and friends of friends. This will not only keep search results relevant, but results will also carry much greater weight, versus other social recommendation and review sites such as Yelp, because of the close social connection each user will have with their personalized results.
By the sounds of things, the features being debuted via beta currently are just the start of things, and that this will become a much more powerful tool that is capable of searching a broader range of things on Facebook in future iterations.
This is all very interesting, but what will this mean for businesses and brands on the world’s largest social network?
Engagement Will Remain Key
Graph Search results will be based on the interests, experiences and content that your social graph has engaged with or shared on Facebook. Based on the bit of preliminary information we’ve been provided, it seems that businesses who are able to successfully engage their consumers by way of likes, comments and shares are going to be showing up in more search results than businesses filled with lurkers.
Fan Acquisition and Retention Will Mean Appearing in More Search Results
If you want to be discovered via Facebook Graph Search, you’re going to need to find ways to attract, engage and retain your fans. The number of potential search results your business appears in is going to be directly correlated to the size of your community. This isn’t rocket science, but it will obviously pay off to grow your Facebook community and work to retain your fans.
Shared Positive Experiences Will Serve as Trusted Endorsements
From what I understand, Graph Search results are going to be limited to your first and second-degree connections. These are people you know, people you trust, and friends of the people you know and trust. If the people appearing in consumers’ search results have shared positive experiences they’ve had with a business, this will serve as a highly valuable and trusted endorsement. Because of this, endorsements on Facebook are going to carry greater weight than other social networks such as Yelp, which show unfiltered reviews from everyone, including complete strangers.
Graph Search is coming. Even though it is in beta and will likely launch with limited search functionality, it has significant implications for your business. Prepare for its launch and likely future iterations by continuing to grow, engage and provide value to your fan base. The reward of doing a good job in these areas will be greater amplification and influence to a broader number of users. This has the makings of being a powerful search and discovery tool, that if harnessed properly, could yield amazing results for your Facebook community and business.
What are your initial thoughts on Graph Search?
How do you think the introduction of Graph Search will affect your social strategy?
It would be great to hear from you in the comments, or on Twitter @RGBSocial
Image Credits: Graph Search icon via thetechblock.com and World Map via gigaom.com