Just this Tuesday, Facebook held a press conference to announce what it is calling Graph Search.
The search product is considered to be in very early, limited beta, so you can’t go try it out just yet. But you can get on a waitlist to be one of the earlier users.
Is Facebook’s Graph Search going to replace Google or Bing for most users web searching? No.
But it’s not meant to.
The new search is more a way to intelligently leverage the network of people and information you already have within Facebook, rather than extend Facebook into the web search world.
Facebook explains it like this:
“Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: “my friends in New York who like Jay-Z”) to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that’s been shared on Facebook.”
Searches, at least at first, will be limited to people, places, photos, and interests. They will also be private, meaning “you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”
Search for Places
You may turn to the new search as a kind of recommendation engine, like Yelp, but based on your network. So you’ll search for nearby restaurants that your friends like.Or a dentist they like.
But you’ll also be able to refine your searches by more personal criteria. You could, for example, search for restaurants liked by your single friends vs. your married friends. Or favorite restaurants of people you went to college with. Or favorite restaurants of people who work at a certain company.
Search for People
The new search will let you do simple things, like find all your friends that live in your city. But you can get much more granular and specific than that, searching, for example, for friends who like jazz music or running. If you’re planning a trip you may search for friends who’ve been to the destination you’ll be visiting. When looking for a golf buddy you could search for people who like golf and live nearby.
Search for Photos
Photo search should also be popular, allowing you to find photos by person, place, or date. You can even use it to look back at “photos I like,” photos you’ve commented on, photos from specific trips (e.g., “photos of me at the grand canyon”), or times (“photos of friends in 2007”). Your photo search doesn’t have to be limited to your own photos either.
Search for Interests
Like the place searches, interest searches will often be used to find recommendations, such as “music my friends like.” Again, you will be able to use the searches to find recommendations of people with similar tastes outside of your network of friends, such as “movies liked by people who like movies I like” (which is the kind of thing Netflix has done well). You can also use the search to find out the tastes of different subsets of people, such as “books read by school teachers” vs. “books read by authors” vs. “books read by CEOs.”
Want to learn more? Check out Danny Sullivan’s Up Close with Facebook Graph Search at SearchEngineLand.com.
Remember, the new Facebook Graph Search won’t be widely available for months. But it looks like it will be an interesting, useful, and fun addition to the Facebook experience.