Three years ago, I was sitting in an interview for a company as a social media manager. A social media consultant and a marketing manager were interviewing me.
They asked me what I thought the future of the internet and social would look like. I remember sitting back, looking up and talking about Facebook. I remember talking that a whole generation is slowly growing up with Facebook, embracing everything, from places to timeline, and ignoring the trivialities of privacy policies.
I cited that inclusionism would be the Holy Grail, and that a company like Facebook would strive to keep its users within its site. Web browsing would fundamentally change and those who are used to querying Facebook will naturally accept this.
I didn’t get the job, he said, “That’s a very bold statement. I don’t think that will happen.” That was fine, I’m happy where my career went afterwards. Fast forward to last week, and Facebook has launched Graph Search, which, I may add, confirms what I said – which made me smile.
Facebook has nailed it. With all those previous issues of an over inflated stock price, being dubious with people’s privacy and generally having a slightly rough ride, Facebook has delivered something that is a game changer for the web, and as a result: for everyone.
Think about how you use Facebook. Essentially, you use it to find out what people are doing, where they are going and what they’ve done. Now, you can search people and companies in a generic way. You can search people who, say, work for Google, who like Frank Ocean.
From an interest point of view, you can link up with these likeminded people (which, means Facebook is moving from the model of connecting with people you know, to people that you share a common ground with) or you can talk about employment opportunities. Quake in your boots LinkedIn.
Questions that can’t be answered within Facebook will be pushed out to Bing, but that information of searching and which sites you eventually land on can all be profiled and will hone Facebook’s advertising arm. Bing has, additionally, announced that this partnership will infact be a two-way conversation between them and Facebook, which allows Bing to socially search in a way that Google cannot even dream of. All of that gated data is now there, available to Google’s number one competitor.
From a wider perspective, businesses are going to have to be even more diligent in their social media policies. They are going to have to make sure that new and current employees are promoting the business in the correct manner – if Facebook becomes business orientated, those searches, specific as they can be (show me everyone who works at [insert company] who likes shots) could potentially damage you and your company’s reputation.
But, for a whole generation that is a side issue, this change in Facebook’s policy, coupled with the Bing linkup is going to be massive. Facebook Graph Search is going to change the way we market. No longer will a Facebook page be a little way down the list in the remit of a marketer; it’s going, especially in the retail world, to be the number one page to keep up to date, dynamic and interesting.
Searches will be undertaken on Facebook and the links will go back to pages. For instant: ‘Show me great places to eat in Windsor’ will go to all the places that are rated, especially by peers.
You will go to the most desirable, linked-to page, just as you go to Google’s favourite. But what would be better from a consumer’s perspective is that personal reviews and interactions will be displaying which, just like Trip Advisor, would sway where you would eat. And if that route is more preferred and uptake is serious enough, Facebook wins.
Don’t take just my word for it, ask an SEO expert: “Its hard to say at this early stage what Graph Search will mean for SEO, for one, nobody has had a chance to optimise for it yet! Its an exciting prospect though, rather than relying on a spider to crawl and index pages, Facebook already has access to all of the information in its database.
“The basic concept is that Graph Search therefore will use an algorithm to pull up results based upon the exact query typed in. What we imagine this will rely upon is profiles, both personal and corporate, being rich with information and social indicators. We imagine that the number of likes and “check-ins” a profile has will both be indicators for results that are displayed.”
What will be interesting is how Facebook will integrate this new offering into a mobile offering (especially for Android – a direct competitor to the enhancements of Jelly Bean and iOS), and of course, their much rumoured Facebook Phone. If this works well and seamlessly, well, it will be game over. Google have attempted to integrate search but not at a successful enough level – Facebook will be different. I for one, can’t actually wait.