Facebook’s new Graph Search tool could threaten Google’s search domination

This week, the hottest internet news seems to be the new addition to Facebook: Graph Search. Graph search is a new search tool that allows users to search for information based on how their friends (and other users) display information or have interacted with pages. For example, it will allow a user to search for “restaurants in Birmingham that my friends have liked”, or “people in my home town who enjoy fishing”.

Aside from the privacy implications (Graph Search is reported to be fairly invasive when it comes to personal data, and leaves no option to remove yourself from the service), the new addition to the social network could resurrect the Facebook “like” as a marketing metric, as businesses finally see a return on investment for the huge “likebase” they have collected.

This new search tool has the potential to revolutionise the way we trawl for information on the internet, and by extension of this, the way we market and promote online. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has emphasized that (at the moment at least) there is no intention to make money from Graph Search – but it should be noted that it is still in beta.

Zuckerbreg is keen to stress that no money will be made from Graph Search.... for now.

Zuckerberg is keen to stress that no money will be made from Graph Search…. for now.

Graph Search invites comparison between Facebook and one of the other internet big boys – our good friend Google. After treading on the toes of Facebook with the inception of Google+, Google now risk a very bitter taste of their own medicine, as Facebook encroaches on their primary specialism: searching the internet. Whilst at this stage, Graph Search is only capable of searching Facebook’s own content, partnership with another big rival to Google, Bing, could stand to change all of this. We are already seeing ever-increasing proportions of time online being spent on Facebook, and if the possibility of searching the whole internet via Graph Search becomes a reality, then it could really hurt Google’s traffic, as more Facebook users discover they don’t ever need to leave the site.

Facebook and Bing seem to be operating on a “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours” policy, too – with Bing’s search results now being bolstered by recent Facebook updates (provided you link your account to Bing, of course). From Bing’s recent blog post:

“Starting today, five times more of your friends’ content on Facebook is searchable in the sidebar – including status updates, shared links, comments and photos from your friends. With the addition of status updates, shared links and comments to the sidebar, it’s now easier to see who knows and what they’ve shared related to your search. So when your friends aren’t around, Bing is the perfect stand-in.”

So, as far as inbound marketing is concerned, how should we approach Graph Search? I think currently the best course of action is simply to watch and wait. The idea is still in infancy, and regardless of statements issued by Facebook, once the platform is more established, paid advertising and other promotion strategies will begin to emerge.

Whilst Facebook Graph Search is not available to the public yet, you can read more about it, check out a video explaining how it works, and sign up for beta testing here.

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