Search wars: Can Facebook really take the fight to Google?

Chris Bridgland
By Chris Bridgland | 18 January 2013

Mark Zuckerberg and his team have recently come forward with news of Graph Search, a potentially game-changing major update to Facebook, although only time will tell whether this is a positive or a negative step for the Silicon Valley-based social behemoth.

Reactions from social media experts across the globe have been diverse, with some citing it as unfinished with no real value in the marketplace and others have championed it as a stroke of genius for taking search to the next level with real personalisation in a world of social connections.

If you are not aware of Graph Search, the new product is making use of the long forgotten elephant in the room, Facebook Search. Zuckerberg and company have long realised that this prominent search bar is a hugely undervalued piece of digital real estate and have developed, alongside partner Bing, Graph Search. Launching globally in the coming weeks it will connect all the valuable social data found within Facebook and fundamentally change the way people are using the network on a daily basis.

As an example; I am out and around the city and I want to find out where the best eatery for Sushi is in Sydney. Right now, I would likely ask a friend that I know is a sushi eater rather than search the limitless world of Google - a personal recommendation beats SEO algorithms every day. With Graph Search I can search for a personalised recommendation from my friends and family; browse Mike’s photos from Yoshii; check out Abbey’s check-ins from the touch screens at Wagaya; find out who of my friends have eaten at Kenji in the last 6 months; all assisting me in my decision as to whether to go for sashimi or teriyaki. Social recommendation at its finest.

This development within the Facebook ecosystem is a game changer for the social media, but will it be a positive one for Facebook?

Graph Search has the potential to take away a huge chunk from Google search, specifically in areas such as dining recommendations; travel advice; books and films and more. If Facebook users warm to Graph Search over the coming months then expect to see the currently declining Facebook dwell time start to increase again, a major bonus for Facebook’s main source of income - advertising.

Another huge potential for Graph Search is when it is applied alongside Facebook’s yet to be announced mobile strategy. If successful it could well be the start of their domination on the ever evolving mobile platform. Graph Search would give the user access to instant recommendations and personalised search completely unique to their location and social group.

This isn’t all rainbows and unicorns for Facebook. Graph Search also has the potential to be a game changer in a negative way. Essentially, Facebook are looking at fundamentally adapting the core of the network, from a social content engagement platform to integrating a very sophisticated social discovery and recommendation layer on top.  Will this over-complicate Facebook, and will it fall foul like previous social networks? Ahem. Myspace.

How Graph Search is going to be beneficial for brands is still up for debate, and we won’t know until the advertising products are rolled out later in 2013, but you can be sure that advertising was thought about up front in development. From a brand's point of view, connecting to fans in a user initiated manner is the holy grail for social media platforms, and this will take Facebook one-step ahead of the current competition. 

Only time will tell as to whether Graph Search will be the next big thing in the Facebook armoury but for sure they’ll have something else up their sleeves ready to amaze and confuse us all.

Chris Bridgland
Account Director
We Are Social

comments powered by Disqus