FacebookButtonFacebook recently launched a “third pillar,” as Zuckerburg coined in his announcement on January 15th, creating a social buzz for all techies and social media gurus alike. Facebook graph search creates the capability for users to query different questions providing answers centered around your Facebook friends with common interests.

Now I am sure you’ve already read numerous articles knocking Facebook graph search, and don’t be misguided by my title because I am still open to the graph search idea. I think it could be monumental and may provide more options for search queries rather than just “Google it.” As for all great ideas, trials and tribulations are necessary while trouble is only temporary.

The Main Idea

Graph search will provide a depth of personalization within each query depending on the user. Although, personalized search is really nothing new. Netflix, Amazon and Pandora have already designed a recommendation avenue to keep you coming back for more, and most people don’t think of Facebook as a tool to discover movies, restaurants, and places to travel. It may be a struggle for Facebook to convince their users to adjust. People will now have to provide more signals such as Likes, check-ins and shared photos, and have fully filled out profiles in order for graph search to be a success. People don’t like to change.  I turn to Facebook for mapping out and staying in touch with friends – not a search database. But if the new pillar proves worthy users will convert.

Can’t You Take A Joke?

One of the main complications being discussed with graph search is the lack of understanding human behavior. Personally, the majority of my Facebook friends are just that.  Facebook friends.  I use the platform to maintain relationships and share information with people that have some sort of significance in my life. I may hang out with maybe 2% of my 1,000 Facebook friends. So, realistically speaking, what do I care about your opinion on dentistry or taste in Mexican food? I do not see the value, nor do I feel compelled to make a decision based on what the other 98% of my friends ‘Like.’ I never really took interest in following the crowd, but hey, that’s just me.

This can cause implications with users sharing too much information. Somebody may have liked something out of mere humor.  Haven’t you seen two roommates that have the status of “married” just to display their best friendship? Graph search must reengineer the algorithm, so users don’t have the issue of over-thinking every little thing contributed to its database. Make sure you go through your ‘Likes’ and unlike anything that may cause controversy, because graph search, without permission, is forming a computerized, obscurely detailed… you. Would you like your profile showing up with the words “Likes Sexism” next to it? Especially now that you cannot hide from search. This can cause major havoc in the Facebook community with paranoid users choosing to opt out of participation by deleting their accounts.

 Marketing Gold Mine

In the end, however, graph search was made for marketers. Being on both sides of the fence, I am a little apprehensive of my graph search being more heavily optimized with advertisements that do not pertain to me. However, it could be a brilliant, master plan to rescue the ‘Like.’ Advertisers spend a tremendous amount of money on campaigns to build their fan base, and have become disappointed with the resulting ROI. Graph search being integrated with ‘Likes’ will fuel recommendations and contribute much more value to paid advertisements. It is a clear way to influence frequency and brand awareness. Beautiful. Facebook hopes to be back in the good graces with advertisers. Using numbers from past campaigns to show concrete evidence can leverage the idea. Gaining recognition through Facebook is a difficult task, but graph search can make it worthwhile.  I am interested in utilizing the “third pillar” with a marketing mind. I can only imagine the possibilities once a mobile pillar is in effect.

Only time can tell how beneficial graph search will be, and I think I’ll wait until Facebook has proven its value.  What do you think?

Hannah Vergara on Google+