Last week, Facebook revealed the next step in its strategy for world domination. As many expected, the popular social network announced the coming of an enhanced search feature. Graph Search will be valuable for users interested in finding recommendations from friends (or friends of friends) on, or discovering virtually anything – activities, destinations, entertainment, photos, people, etc.
The search process is fairly intuitive, but definitely different than how one searches on Google. An example of a typical search will be, “I’m going to Los Angeles and want to find a Mexican restaurant overlooking the ocean.” The results will include lists of establishments visited by the user’s Facebook friends and include their reviews and photos of the places, maps, and any other relevant information.
Personally, I remain undecided on Facebook’s Graph Search. I know my opinion will most likely evolve once I get to play with it. The search feature is a logical step and will make digital word-of-mouth even more important. Social media optimization will continue to expand as new marketing methods emerge. However, I think there are still a few unanswered questions and issues to address that may affect the impact of Graph Search.
How many Facebook users actually use the site to recommend or post about local establishments? If they even get that far, how in depth are the reviews? I would think that those who like writing reviews would visit the far more comprehensive Yelp, Google+, or Tripadvisor. I work with social media on a daily basis and must admit I have never read the recommendations and have never interacted with or posted about brands or businesses on the site for personal use. I don’t see many of my Facebook connections doing so either. Even if they have, what are the chances that someone I’m friends with on Facebook has visited an establishment that fits my desired parameters, then actually gone to Facebook to write about it?
On top of this, will Facebook be able to tell whose recommendations I care the most about? Yes, I can admit that, like many others, I was perhaps a bit too eager with my Confirm Friend Request button in my early college years. Unfortunately, now I’m left with many acquaintances on my friends list (removing friends proved to be an incredibly time-consuming, tedious and now long-term process) and they not necessarily people who I would be interested in receiving recommendations from.
I see more potential in using Graph Search for finding other people with common interests as opposed to finding businesses I’d like to visit. If I want a recommendation for a place, I feel as if I will continue to search Google first, and from there click to a Yelp or Google+ Local page. Since those are designated review sites, I believe the reviews there will be more thorough and I’ll find the desired information more handily there. Facebook will most likely be revamping their entire Recommendations process and potentially bringing in a more specific Review process to supplement its Graph Search, but for now, my doubts remain.