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Facebook Graph Search Would Challenge Local and Business Searches

Photos of Friends before 1999 (Source:Facebook PR)

  • Good that Facebook finally announced its 'social search' as Graph Search Jan. 15, 2013. It was anticipated for a while, just as there is anticipation about a Facebook phone even though Facebook denies it.

    Using graph search, Facebook users can find items, photos, places, and businesses liked by their friends. The users can also find friends with certain likings. For example, find friends who visited Machu Puchu Mountain or the Ajanta Caves. Of course, young (not restricted to), can also find out people of matching interests.

    The following image would give an example of a graph search based of friends' likings.

    Research shows our decisions are often influenced by friends and peers. So, facebook friends liking a business or an item would definitely help a business.

    Whenever search is mentioned, we think of Google, Bing, etc. So, would their business be impacted? I don't believe that this will have a dramactic impact on their respective businesses in the short-term. Their main business of information search would not be impacted. However, both Google and Bing are focussing on going beyond showing web pages, but helping to discover shopping items, restaurants, etc. And that would be impacted. More than that, businesses like Yelp, which exclusively focus on such discoveries, would be impacted.

    So, does that mean that Facebook found a magic trick? That is not true either. There are two reasons: one, nowadays most of us have hundreds to thousands of friends. But most of their interests may not reflect our own interests. It would certainly be useful to know  who liked the 'thing.' In such a case, it is worth getting opinions from the people who liked it; secondly, despite having hundreds of friends, when we are finding a place or item solely based what our social friend circle likes, may not always return the best results, or worst, any results. 

    That is why the Relevance Search Platform, which I work on, gives recommendations that are relevant to the user who is searching and, then, augment the results with friends' opinions as well as popular results based on general public opinion, especially from Twitter.

    Anyway, if more people "LIKE" a business/product, Facebook may earn more money. This feature would give Facebook an opportunity for monetization. Of course, this is based on assumptions  that facebook users would keep on 'liking' or commenting on the businesses and they would be interested in searches based on friends' likings. These assumption are debatable. Hence,we  did not see an immediate jump in Facebook's stock following the annoucement. But I also believe that their will be more work in this area and more features would come from Facebook.

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