In January this year Facebook introduced the ‘beta’ version of its new Graph Search service and I ‘m sure most Facebook users have little understanding of what it is and what it does. Luckily I was on the Graph Search waiting list and am now just beginning to use it.
Facebook’s Graph Search Pitch
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, says there are two ways to connect people in Facebook: staying connected and making new connections.
With Graph Search, Facebook is focusing on how to ‘find’ information.
There are three ways to get information on Facebook:
- News Feed: To know what is going on in the world around you
- Timeline: To learn about people
- Graph Search: Find things through ‘search’…private information that’s not available through a regular web search.
Information about Graph Search from Facebook’s website says…”
“Today’s Graph Search beta is just the beginning. We’re starting with a focus on people, photos, places and interests, but are looking forward to incorporating posts and Open Graph actions, as well as making Graph Search available on mobile and in every language. We’re excited to be able to keep making search more useful, fun and central to how you explore existing connections and make new ones on Facebook.”
Graphs, Social, Networks…What Are They Talking About?
To help appreciate how Facebook got to the point of offering Graph Search it’s useful to clarify a few related terms…Social Network Service, Social Graph, Open Graph, Interest Graph and Enterprise Social Graph.
Social Network Service: Also often referred to as social platforms, social media services assist in constructing social networks between individuals who have shared interests, activities, histories, or live relationships. A social network serves an individual, whereas online community services are group-centered. Social network users share thoughts, events, and interests within their self-selected networks.
Social Graph: The social graph in relation to the Internet portrays interpersonal relations between internet users. The term was made popular in 2007, when it was used to explain that Facebook (introduced then) would benefit from the social graph by taking advantage of the relationships between individuals and provide a richer internet experience. The definition has been adapted to refer to a social graph of all Internet users.
Since Facebook is currently the most used social network service, it comprises the largest number of defined relationships between the largest numbers of people among all websites social graph.
Open Graph: Facebook’s Open Graph API (application program interface) lets websites gather more information than simply people, including images, events, and pages, and their associations with each other. The Open Graph enlarges the social graph concept to more than just relationships between individuals. It applies it to non-human items between people as well.
Enterprise Social Graph: An enterprise social graph is a depiction of the extended social network of a company, including connections with its employees, suppliers, partners, clientele, and the general public. Social interactions often comprise direct communication along with interactions around digital artifacts.
Interest Graph: The Interest Graph is the interests that are unique to a person, and the effort to connect people based on those interests. An Interest Graph consists of the linkages between people who share interest with an individual person, but who the individual may or may not know.
GRAPH SEARCH…Facebook’s New Social Search Engine
Facebook is clear about Graph Search not being web search. Graph Search reveals private information that isn’t in a regular web search using a browser.
Searching the internet for “alligator,” for example, gives you information links to pages about alligators. Graph Search doesn’t do that. It’s designed to return an answer, not links to an answer.
Facebook initially focused on four use cases in this new launch: people, photos, interests and places.
Searching people: By typing in “friends of friends who are married living in Jakarta and are from Canada” in the search box, the search engine highlights those search terms and brings up a list of people who fit the search parameters. The search engine reads normal language and turns it into terms for searching. You can only search for items you can normally see on Facebook.
Searching photos: You can type “photos of my friends taken in national parks” or “photos of my friends taken in Scotland”. The searches return large tiled photos in that category. Or you can just search for “photos I ‘like’.” This will instigate the “Likes” that Facebook already has. This is an example of data that Facebook has that competitors don’t. You will only see the photos that people have shared with you.
Searching interests: You can type in “Movies my friends like” or “TV shows my friends like.” This section of search has monetization potential. You can also search for “Videos by TV shows liked by my friends” this will bring up just the videos that TV shows have posted. “TV shows liked by doctors” shows that doctors like to watch Grey’s Anatomy. You can also search and see what kind of music people like who also like a certain politician.
Searching places: When traveling, you can search for “night clubs in Bali liked by people who live in Sydney” to get local insider information. Or search for people who have been to Fiji.
Graph Search is still in ‘beta’ so will be even more robust later. But in the meantime Facebook has aligned with Microsoft to use Bing for searches that Facebook doesn’t have data for…like weather information.
I’m just beginning to play around with Graph Search and it’s already showing some interesting results that I couldn’t possibly have collected on my own.