The Utility and Futility of Facebook’s Graph Search

Okay, let’s get a couple of things straight before we get into the meat of this topic. First, Facebook has a lot of very smart engineers that are going to make Graph Search useful over time. Second, it makes complete sense for Facebook to get into this game. Before search, Facebook could only sell display ads – essentially billboards. Not a bad business if you can show the billboards to a billion people, but not nearly as lucrative as Google’s ‘intent-based’ ads (this topic has gotten plenty of coverage elsewhere; no need to repeat it all here). So, if Facebook understands what products or services a person is looking for right now, they can sell ad space to businesses eager to sell those same products or services. Makes sense. 

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But there are two parts to this story which are of particular interest to us. The first, how is Facebook actually performing search today. And second, for what is it really useful. 

On the first question, you may have heard that Facebook is currently rolling out limited search functionality – you will only be able to access structured data, including pictures, tags, locations and likes. While some of these data types are valuable today, they only answer a limited set of very specific questions ,e.g. music my friends like, photos of my friends in NY, cameras liked by my friends.

Over time Facebook will surely begin to search user posts as well. That is, they won’t just look at tags and likes, but will search through all the text of posts and comments. And that’s when things will really get interesting, because there’s a huge jump in complexity from asking questions that have a definite answer (a city, a person, a band) to questions that have a range of answers (does anyone have a used cell phone, or what is the best health care provider in my city). It remains to be seen how quickly, and how successfully, Facebook can begin to address the tougher category of questions.

At huduyou, we have built our business around answering just these kinds of difficult questions. When people search huduyou for a dentist, a math tutor or a photographer, they want help from their friends. They don’t want general information about photography, or horror stories about going to the dentist, they want help in choosing a dentist.  That’s why we not only encourage people to write reviews for their friends, but also to use huduyou to search for recommendations already written by friends and neighbors on Facebook.

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You may have noticed that huduyou search results are starting to display more structured recommendations culled from the mass of information on Facebook. We have worked hard to develop methods that help users benefit from the Facebook conversations their friends, groups, and neighbors are having every day about the categories of greatest interest. Over the coming days and weeks we’ll share more information about what you can find. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore huduyou to see all the great reviews and recommendations you can use today to find that trusted local service providers.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

Yoav

& the huduyou team

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