Facebook brought the world together today to announce it’s new product beta Facebook Graph Search. Basically the social media network will be giving access to their social graph data to the public at large. The examples that were given by Mark Zuckerberg were that he and his wife used the search to find local Mexican restaurants that his friends had visited. Of course he also gave several other examples of how it might be used suggesting that you could search for friends in San Francisco that enjoy skiing. (A list of the examples offered can be found below) The big question that I’m asking here is, what solution is being provided, and more important, what problem is being resolved? Sure, having social search enabled makes it easier to find information about people you have as a friend but I’m not sure this will be used all that much.
Take for example the question that was used by Mark. When I look for restaurants around town I check Google, or Yelp, or even just ask my friends where they would suggest (Twitter, Facebook, etc). I then look at the reviews from Google Places, or Yelp or even Foursquare and decide if that meets my needs. Google Places already shows me if my friends have +1’d a place or even if they’ve written a recommendation. Facebook is playing catch-up again. They’re using their huge data resources to give you answers to questions that most of us either ask in a status update or find when we do a Google search.
The implications for businesses are even less impressive. They suggest that Facebook Pages that have high engagement levels are going to show up first in search results and that it’s still very important to make sure that your business is using the paid services (Sponsored stories, etc) because those results will show up higher than others. While on the surface this sounds great, the reality is that this is not really a highly requested feature by most users. There are some "Super Users" that might find this useful as they friend everyone and have huge followings (celebrities, etc) but I don’t see this as being a widely used function on Facebook for the soccer mom’s or even high school students. With the average user having between 100-190 friends and roughly half of those active on social media the results will be very spotty.
As a Facebook user is this underwhelming news or is this revolutionary and I’m just missing the vision? Leave your comments in the section below.