In a move which is bound to appease a few Facebook investors, Mark Zuckerberg yesterday launched their "Graph Search" product to a restricted and carefully selected audience. Those that have been lucky enough to get their hands on the goods have come away aghast at how much time they've just spent staring at a screen - darkness falls and daylight returns once more! All jokes aside, could Facebook have created their next step-change in social search, and opened up access to some REALLY interesting insights and facts about our fellow Facebookers? Cue the inevitable privacy discussions, but in lieu of that debate, let's take a look at what we're dealing with.
What's possible? Well, Facebook is effectively allowing another layer of social networking, where it's incredibly easy to find the people you're connected to on an activity or interest-based level, rather than by declared "friendship", and extend to "friends of friends". This second-level connectivity offers up more results than you might imagine, and allows you to "pre-qualify" the people you wish to connect directly with - much like your introductions on LinkedIn, but with commonality in mind, rather than professional or collaborative benefit. For instance, imagine you're planning a trip to Paris, and want recommendations for good restaurants. Graph search allows you to search for restaurants your friends have been to in Paris - the next logical step is an obvious one.
And this is where the potential issues reside. In order to get the very best from Facebook's Graph Search, more people need to be sharing where they are, and what they're doing. They need to be actually liking the stuff they really do like, instead of being coerced into liking a brand, for example, because they're giving away a free iPad to one of their fans. Accuracy in results can only come when the "like" element is authentic, and the propensity to share location, via checkins, is improved.
will people alter behaviour, due to the advent of graph search? No-one knows, but I suspect it will at least get people thinking about what they share, and where - resetting that state of mind to that of the wonderment we felt when we first found out about Facebook ... remember that?! Get ready to get more active with the most active social platform of all. To get access to Graph Search, request an invite at https://www.facebook.com/about/graphsearch
What are your first impressions? Will graph search make you more active in your Facebook interactions? Comments below, please!