Computing Columnist: Search-o-graphic
Just when you thought search was pretty much covered by all the various engines and algorithms out there, Facebook introduces a new type of search - one based on your friends. And friends of friends.
And every other permutation you can think up.
They're calling it Graph Search, and the idea is to find events, people, activities, places, all based on what you and your friends have declared interest in. Right now the application is in Beta form, and you can sign up to be given an invite to test it out.
We've talked about advertising in this regard in this column before. Advertisers have a real advantage when they're talking to people who have expressed interest in their product or service. So Facebook is banking on the notion that searchers will find results even more beneficial when they search for things based on mutual interests among friends.
An example provided by Facebook is to search on "restaurants in New York City my friends have liked." That could be useful, especially if you have lots of friends who frequent New York City.
Another way to use the Graph Search, and probably the genesis of the slightly odd name is searching by photos. So, "photos of beaches," or "photos of favorite beaches," or "photos of beaches in Georgia," and so on. Then you'll see all the photos posted by friends of beaches that meet your search criteria.
There was some speculation that this new Facebook feature would pose a threat of some kind to Google. That seems a little out there to me, given that it is limited in scope to friends, and friends of friends. However, it could replace Google as your search engine of choice when you want a recommendation for a particular brand, place, event, or activity - and that could pose a threat to Google's advertising pre-eminence, though it's more likely to simply move Facebook advertising up a notch than to dethrone Google. That isn't just because Facebook would get the search traffic for recommendations, but also because individuals would be, in the marketing parlance, "raising their hands" in favor of a brand, place, event or activity - and there's nothing marketers love more than that.
As of this writing, I'm awaiting my invitation. If I get one, I'll let you know how I like the adventure.