The early verdict is out. The world’s most popular social network’s second take on structured search is good – like, scary good. On Tuesday, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg presented the company’s newest resource for finding people, places, photos and interests. They call it “graph search.”
Facebook Graph Search, currently in beta and restricted to limited availability, functions much in the same way that my LASIK eye surgery did. When I sat down, everything was blurry and featureless and when I got up from the chair, I was able to see things I had never seen before, but had always been right there in front of me. In the same manner, Facebook’s Graph Search allows you to filter through the annals of Facebook history and find things relative to your interests that you would have otherwise missed because they were just outside of your visibility.
Graph Search is a powerful, easy to use and most importantly, entertaining answer to the cries for a functional Facebook search feature that is long overdue. But Graph Search is more than that. Facebook put such a spin on the traditional search bar that they added an entirely new use for the social network: discovery.
For the entirety of its life, Facebook has been about sharing and interacting. It gave us an opportunity to share pieces of our life with our network and to be able to respond when others shared their lives with us. Historically, that sharing and interaction has been restricted to certain people: friends, family members, co-workers, classmates. With the introduction of Graph Search, Facebook now offers us the chance to discover new people, new places, new connections. It’s no longer just about broadcasting ourselves to the world, it’s about being able to filter through certain aspects of our world and pick out the bits and pieces we actually care about – and that is a very powerful tool.
The new tool is so effective, in fact, that during your first use you’ll probably black out and wake up deep, deep within the Facebook rabbit hole, perusing “pictures at beaches taken in 1989” with no recollection of how you got there. The scariest part is that this is the type of synapse-wrenching, pandemically-viral layering that makes YouTube such a popular outlet for the bored and curious. If you’ve ever found yourself glancing at the clock to see that it’s 3:15am and you’re watching a video of a cat in a tutu riding a Roomba around the living room, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Of course, as is customary with all revolutionary ideas, there will be a rather substantial learning curve to work your way through. In my experience, I quickly realized that Graph Search is to conventional search what Facebook Timeline is to the social network profile. Oh, you don’t remember what Facebook looked like before the timeline? EXACTLY. My bet is that someone in your network of friends complained incessantly that they “couldn’t figure out how to work it” or that they “weren’t changing over ‘til Facebook made them.” Graph Search will be very much the same. You will have your naysayers and complainers, and although it will take some fumbling around at first, users will quickly find their sea legs and start sailing through the seas of Facebook content with no problems.
Overall, I found Facebook’s new Graph Search feature to be a very intuitive, extremely powerful tool for exploring a vast social network and pulling out the relevant channels of images, people, places and interests. It doesn’t hurt that the ability to finally connect the dots between the brand, a target customer and their interests will be a big sell for the boys on Wall Street. If you ask me, Graph Search will work quietly through the beta phase, where Zuckerberg and company will tweak and refine the search functions to make the user experience as fluid as possible. When they’re ready, you better throw on a poncho, because Graph Search is going to make a big splash in the social network scene and forever change the way that we discover new content.
You can join the waiting list and try Graph Search Beta by visiting Facebook’s page here.