Facebook Graph Search – a big experiment in the world of search engines
A few days go the world of the new media and technology stopped for a while and turned once again to Facebook, which announced that “something will happen”. Immediately comments and guesses appeared on the Internet, and the most far-reaching ones predicted a Facebook-created smartphone – writes Michał Daniluk, a board member in OMD.
After the presentation the level of excitement by the new product decreased. Facebook showed what the company is working on and how they imagine using the tool that we have known for a long time, and which they plan to enter the world of search engines with. This tool is Graph Search.
Meanwhile, technological companies from all over the world constantly think how to win a part of the huge market that is dominated by Google and what will be the future expectations of the Internet users. Companies such as the Russian Yandex or the Chinese Baidu or, finally, Microsoft try to fight directly with Google.
On the other hand, the way we look for information changes. Apple, when we use the voice user interface Siri “asking our smartphone” about questions that are interesting to us, refers to, among others, results of engine Wolfram Alpha, which itself offers an approach to looking for information other than that of Google. Moreover, there are image interfaces, which should demonstrate the searched information and websites to make it easier to use such information on tablets.
Facebook also enters this market. With its enormous knowledge base packed with information about us, it tries to offer us a product which, in theory, will be completely different than those competitors. In fact, the device which Zuckerberg talks about today should make looking for the information that so far was hard to find on Facebook much easier. It appears that today it is rather enhancing the functioning of Facebook that fighting Google. Facebook Graph search is designed to facilitate looking for information based on who we are connected to on Facebook. It will make easier browsing information about our friends’ hometown or their favorite restaurants. Today such details are difficult to get, and nobody without some obvious reason, would try to gather it. The new search engine would allow doing it rapidly, with one click.
It seems that the product that we have seen is just a huge experimental field, which will show whether and to what extent what our friend like and do is really important to us. Is this kind of information really something that matters or it will be looked for only from time to time? Google went in a slightly different direction. There, the information gathered by Google+ influence or search results, thus, it is an addition that complements the traditional definition of a search engine. Facebook, on the other hand, offers a product that is to influence the way we look for information and, maybe, change our habits. It’s an interesting approach but it doesn’t evoke strong feelings. To what extent the information about what kind of restaurants our friends living in a particular city like will be useful for us? Will this knowledge be useful for us in everyday life? How often will we use such an option? Personally, I don’t know until I try it. For sure the usefulness and accuracy of such a solution will grow along with the users sharing more and more details about themselves and what they do on Facebook. If only it happens, and it’s still not certain.
It can be said that Facebook has started a big experiment. This experiment should show whether this kind of information matters to us and whether we will use the opportunities provided by Graph Search. And, at the end of the day, whether it is possible to make money out of it. When Google entered the marked, nobody was sure if this business model, based on sharing information what can be found on the Web for free, would become successful. Today it’s a great business. Quoting The Guardian: “Today, Graph Search is a search engine in the same way as Google+ is a social networking site.” That’s why they experienced a slight slump the day after the conference. The investors as well as the whole market have to see how the fully functional Graph Search starts to be used full-scale. That’s when it will be possible to fully judge how important in the world of the new media, technology and ordinary users was the last presentation.