When Facebook introduces new features or changes its terms of service or user experience, a predictable cycle occurs:
- First, outcry from tech pros and early adopters, while the vast majority of “regular” users shrug and continue sharing photos of kittens;
- Second, confusion as to what the changes actually look like, resulting in more outcry;
- Third, grousing and grumbling as brands and marketers adjust to the new landscape; and
- Fourth, the sigh of resignation as the new features become, well . . . old hat.
How Facebook Graph Search Will Change Our Relationship With Facebook
The more you rely on Facebook, the more your life and/or business is “irrevocably disrupted” by its ongoing evolution —unless, of course, a particular change benefits you. And Facebook’s newest sparkly feature, Facebook Graph Search, is creating hubbub in both directions.
Put simply, the new search feature allows users to wade through all the data Facebook has gathered from billions of users, much like how someone might search online using Google or Bing. The results you get, however, will be pure Facebook, and they’ll be filterable by subset.
Some users (like stock analysts who think it may have a positive impact on Facebook’s offering) love the new capability . Others don’t (including investors with Yelp stock and those who are bemoaning the potential privacy risks Graph Search will create for Facebook users who don’t have their information security settings locked up tight.
These critics tend to invoke the now classic line about Facebook’s relationship with its users: If you’re not paying for the product, you most likely are the product.
How does Facebook stand to benefit? The incredible amount of information users have uploaded to their Facebook accounts makes Facebook a viable competitor to review and recommendation sites like Yelp and Trip Advisor, and it paves the way for profitable relationships with traditional search engines who are looking for an edge over the undisputed search titan, Google.
Facebook can’t compete with Google in terms of sheer reach (yet!), but the information the company is now opening up for search represents a new—and valuable—frontier that will change the search game entirely.
How do brands and marketers stand to benefit? Well, it’s good news for some and rough news for others. If you’ve been engaging effectively with your Facebook community, you’ll appear at the top of Graph Search results. In other words, if you’ve been offering a positive experience, interacting with your fans, and your fans are recommending you to others, Graph Search will reward you with lots of additional attention from searchers.
However, if you’ve made “Likes” your bottom line, you probably won’t see a bump of any kind—and that’s sure to up the ante for lazy engagers!
How do users stand to benefit? The best thing about Graph Search for users will undoubtedly be the filtering mechanism that allows for exceptionally targeted, quick results —which means you’re likely to get relevant information more quickly and easily (not something Google, or any other social platform, can promise). It also offers more possibilities for finding common interests in your network, and even for meeting new people with common interests.
But, you’ll have to stay tuned. Graph Search hasn’t been rolled out to all Facebook users yet, so it’s hard to say exactly how enthusiastic users will be across the board, or even if most people will use the search function to dig as far as it can go. What this move tells us, however, is that information (or more precisely, insights from that information) remains the most valuable currency on the web—and that those who can deliver that information effectively will stay ahead of the competition.
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