Facebook’s Graph Search crowns triple-threat to Google’s market dominance

Facebook has unveiled its social search function, “Graph Search,” and while it may still be in beta phase, marketers should start interrogating how this will affect both their search and social strategies.

Ronan Shields

Graph Search indexes the social network by people, photos, places and interests and lets users make queries on the site such as “who are my friends who like Star Wars”, “photos of my friends in 2001” or “restaurants nearby”.

My first response is that it will mean brands’ search and social strategies will have to be more closely aligned.

For instance, during the Graph Search presentation it was highlighted that brands, especially location-based ones likes retailers or restaurants, will have to ensure all their Facebook details are completely up to date. Plus they will have to rely less on the social network’s News Feed function as an engagement channel.

This is namely because Facebook’s Graph Search results will be more “context aware”, i.e. based on who your friends are, meaning no brand will just be able to rest on what’s been working so far.

So although Graph Search is in pure beta mode, as it’s only being rolled out to a few hundred thousand Facebook account holders initially, brand managers need to be asking their social teams just how will this ring in the changes straight away. Even though there are no advertising opportunities on the table just yet.

A further forensic examination of the implications of Facebook’s Graph Search are called for when looking at how the company has paired with Microsoft to return ‘web based search results’ using its Bing search engine for queries on topics it has not indexed already.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said it paired with Microsoft’s Bing after its failed to reach an agreement with Google meaning it lacks the power of what I’d regard to be the best-performing search engine on the market.

When you think of the timing of Facebook’s Graph Search announcement, just a week after Twitter unveiled its efforts to ‘humanise’ search returns through moderation of certain queries, it indicates that Google’s dominance of the search market is under fire.

The implications to how Google will react as a response are too early to call although it’s one I’ll be watching closely and my reaction to this is that it will be a welcome development as marketers will embrace diversification among the web’s big players.

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Tom Fishburne is founder of Marketoon Studios. Follow his work at marketoonist.com or on Twitter @tomfishburne See more of the Marketoonist here

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