Written by Tomash Devenishek on January 18, 2013
in Social Media Marketing

By now some of you have heard about “Graph Search,” Facebook’s latest feature, announced earlier this week. Built by two high profile former Google engineers, this new feature essentially is a robust Facebook search engine that allows users to search for anything that lives within the Social Graph (the Facebook  ecosystem) as long as it is accessible under their privacy privileges.

 How does this come to life?

There are now over a trillion connections on Facebook driven by its billion-plus member base, sharing content such as photos (240B +), expressed interests, affiliations and other interactions. Using Graph Search, I can ask Facebook to show me a list of my friends currently living in Toronto, then narrow that list down to those who went to U of T. From there, I can find which ones are single and then conveniently throw a “reunion” party. OK, that was a creepy example, but imagine the same example with “football” as the interest point.

My Super Bowl party would include a ton of old schoolmates I haven’t seen in a while. For now, users can search  people, photos, interests and places, but with time everything else posted or expressed on Facebook will be searchable too.

What does this mean for brands?

Fundamentally, having a search capability gives Facebook more data points in terms of understanding what people are looking for and empowers its advertisers to be in the right place at the right time. Serving users with contextual ads related to their queries is a proven tactic for advertisers, just ask any Adwords customer (or Google).

Pizza places may want to tell me about Super Bowl specials in Toronto on Feb 3, while a tour operator may be of interest to me while I’m looking for photos of friends who went to Thailand. For now, content from brand pages isn’t being indexed, but with time that may change and a search for photos of a specific car model “liked” by friends may result in a sponsored photo from one of its competitor’s brand pages.

For now, Graph Search has only been rolled out to a select few but as it is fine-tuned and rolled out to the masses, it’s bound to also make its way into the considerations of brands and advertisers on the Facebook.

For now, check out this article from Techradar about the new feature with many screenshots.

And if you’re interested in the “inside” story of how Graph Search came to life, WIRED has an excellent account.

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