Written by: Michael Lawrence
It's no secret anymore that Facebook is going to launch an internal search engine that will use user information as the index. What does that actually mean for businesses, competitors and users? Do users truly have a need for it? Will it take away from Google's search engine traffic and others like it? These questions, and many others, will all be answered over time, but in order to capitalize on a tool like the Graph Search, businesses must identify early on how to utilize it to improve their business operations.
The following topics will be discussed in this blog post:
What we already know about the Graph Search
In Facebook's initial press release about the Graph Search, they clearly state how users will interact with this new feature and what problems it can solve and questions it can answer. Examples:
If you have an extra concert ticket and you are looking for a friend to take it off your hands. You can ask the Graph Search, What friends have a similar taste in music?
The Graph Search can answer these questions, but do we ask these questions frequently enough for this feature to be relevant? It will be interesting to see if people will use the Graph Search as often as Facebook predicts they will. Facebook users will certainly conduct a lot of Graph Searches initially, purely out of curiosity if nothing else.
User to User Privacy Settings for Graph Search
It is unclear what the privacy settings for the Graph Search will be at the moment. Facebook has kept everyone in the dark on this issue. Users will be able to select multiple silos and set custom settings within them. Business Privacy settings are listed in the business section towards the end of the blog.
This setting will allow only friends to find you through the Graph Search.
Possible Custom Settings – "Friends of Friends"
This feature will allow any Facebook user to find you through a Graph Search, when your profile is relevant to the search query.
Possible Custom Settings – No Photos, Interest Only, Cannot View Wall, Hide Last Name, Hide Location & Hide Contact Info
A student at St. Ambrose University conducts a Graph Search for students interested in disc golf. If you enabled this privacy setting and are interested in disc golf, this student may find your profile via the Graph Search and ask you to go play a round of disc golf.
Facebook's True Motive with the Graph Search
All public statements from Facebook about the Graph Search to date have been all about the users. Facebook is getting their users on board by saying "Hey! Look at what we are doing for you!" but could the real intent for this feature be the hope of getting businesses interested? If that strategy sounds familiar, you may remember when only people could have Facebook profiles?
Business to Consumer Privacy Settings on the Graph Search
In order to speculate on how businesses will use Facebook’s Graph Search; we first have to speculate on the level privacy settings there will be for businesses. Although these settings are for business, the Facebook user will have control over enabling/disabling these settings.
Recruiters Eyes Only
Typically, social media is only used to cross reference job candidates once a resume and cover letter have been received. This will no longer be the case when Facebook allows businesses to seek out Candidates through the Graph Search. Under this silo, companies will only be able to view the Work & Education Section of a candidate’s profile. If this is a path Facebook decides to take, the Graph Search will look for the Work & Education Section to be updated and expanded with fields such as: Upload Resume & Cover Letter, Career Field, Willing to Relocate - Yes or No?, Years of Experience etc.
Companies will now be able to seek out candidates for open positions asking Graph Search questions like:
Software Developers in Davenport, Iowa?
Give Me Give Me
Currently, Facebook is making a lot of money on behaviorally targeted ads. For example, It is NO coincidence that your girlfriend for the last three years is seeing bridal ads on the side of her news feed. The Graph Search will take behaviorally targeted ads from passive to aggressive. For example:
Companies will be able to search for customers by asking Graph Search questions like:
Now that a company has a list of potential customers who are interested in hiking, what’s next? A special offer is sent to the inbox of a potential customer with a code or unique link that leads to a 45% off coupon for hiking boots. The Facebook user will also have control over how many times they can be contacted.
The privacy settings of the Graph Search are not yet public. It is unclear whether businesses will ever use the Graph Search. In the end, the information companies know about you through Facebook will come down to two things.
1. How much information you are willingly to disclose on Facebook and
2. How much these companies are willing to pay Facebook for access to it.
This was the first installment in a two-part series about the Graph Search. Part 2 will be published in the coming weeks and will focus on: Who are the obvious competitors of the Graph Search? & why they aren’t really direct competitors? and What businesses are going to be hurt most by the Graph Search and don’t even know it yet?