<< by on March 12th, 2013
A few weeks ago, Michelle Doty and I presented a brief introduction to Facebook Graph Search, and while the introduction of Facebook’s newest feature has offered many new ways of searching and finding information in Facebook and our social circles, it also opens a Pandora’s box of questions for marketers. This morning at SMX I attended the “Meet the Facebook Graph Search” session with Loren Cheng who works on the product team at Facebook to hopefully answer more of my questions.
Loren started by sharing Facebook’s mission: Make the world more open and connected. Facebook’s a way of staying connected… the entire social graph is actually enormous. Many things are in the graph, just waiting to be discovered, and Facebook believes the best way to find those things is through your friends.
One billion members are on Facebook, 240 billion photos and over one trillion connections. Even your own social graph may seem difficult to navigate. Social interaction is composed of three pillars of questions:
- What are my friends saying? Newsfeed answers this question.
- Who is this person? What is his/her story? Timeline answers this question.
- Who, of my friends, like what I like? Social Graph Search answers this.
How are web search and graph search different? Web search gives you a list of things that you search for. Graph search, however, answers a specific question as it relates to the people in your social circle. Social graph uses natural language type search.
What can you search for in this phase of graph search?
The next iteration will likely address:
- All languages
Loren then demonstrated how the new Facebook Graph Search works. Many of the demos were similar to the ones performed in the initial product announcement a few weeks back. However, Loren demonstrated that Graph Search also allows users to search with negatives, such as “product managers who are not my friends”. This allows users to search even beyond their current social circle, which could have impacts on efforts like recruiting.
For Facebook pages, Graph Search pulls information the business provides, then from the information provided by users about place, then the social information. He also demonstrated how you can use the Facebook controls on the right to filter the search.
Loren emphasized that Graph Search is privacy aware. Every piece of information has its own audience and most content is not public. You can also only search for content that has been shared with you.
Loren indicated that Graph Search is a new way for businesses to be discovered through:
and leads to improved results with bigger photos and social context.
How can you share your information?
- Create a Facebook page and complete all of the information.
- Add a name, vanity URL, category and information in the about section.
- Add 620×620 pixel profile photo.
- Share your address.
- Add locations for each outlet and opening hours.
How can you strengthen your ranking? It’s based on connections.
- Search is based on the connections of the person searching.
- It’s not just the number of connections but the strength of those connections.
Can you buy ads in Graph Search? Not today.
Finally, you can sign up for Facebook Graph Search in beta at: facebook.com/graphsearch.
Danny Sullivan asked Loren why people can’t “opt out” of Graph Search. Essentially Loren said that you can take information out by changing privacy settings on certain types of content.
For more on how Facebook Graph Search will impact marketers, check out our infographic — click on the image below to get a larger version.
I specifically asked Loren about the issue of potential negative associations, such as a search for “employers of people who like racism”, which yields some major brands in the results, including the US Air Force. How can brands combat this or monitor this since they don’t control the employees’ profiles? And since Facebook data isn’t verified data, there’s great potential for abuse and creating negative reputation issues on Facebook via Graph Search.
Danny even suggested adding something like the Google “disavow” tool.
Loren said that Facebook has challenges too with people who claim to work for Facebook. He said that the graph is designed to look at several factors to determine valid information versus what may not be valid. However, Facebook does not currently have a plan to address monitoring for brands or to remove themselves from a search combination.