There seems to be a pretty even split between people who think Facebook’s Graph Search is a “game changer” or an “(insert name of other website here) killer” and those who think that it probably won’t gain much traction.
I’m currently siding with the skeptics. Here’s why:
- The functionality and effectiveness of Graph Search depends very heavily on people (in your network and out) keeping their info up to date and complete.
- At the launch event, one of the demonstrations was to use Graph Search for recruiting. In that scenario, if your profile isn’t complete with your full work history, any side projects, skills, etc. it’s likely that you could get “missed” by a recruiter. For that exact reason, I think recruiters will stick to searching LinkedIn (and recruiting-specific tools), because that’s information they’re designed around.
- For now (until it begins to display interactions from Open Graph applications like Foursquare, Foodspotting, TripAdvisor, etc.) it depends on people liking, reviewing and adding more information overall (date and location information for photos, etc.) on Facebook.
- Even after Open Graph application data is included in Graph Search, it will still only include info from people who are sharing that data to Facebook. Recent privacy concerns and backlashes have many people locking down more and more of their information in Facebook, so this could also hinder the effectiveness of Graph Search.
- It positions the Facebook like as a universal currency, which begs the question: “how legit are our likes?” How many of you (or your friends) have liked a page just to access a promotional offer? I’m actually a fan of some Facebook pages just because their marketing is so awesomely terrible.
- The same question applies to check-ins and general interactions with brands. Just because I checked in to a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant or liked a picture of the “hang in there” cat that a brand posted on a Monday doesn’t mean I’d recommend that brand or that restaurant.
- Are people really going to go to Facebook to initiate a search? It takes a few extra clicks to get to the Graph Search feature (as opposed to opening a browser with Google as your homepage, or searching from your phone’s map feature), so that presents a barrier, which will be very difficult to overcome if Facebook doesn’t produce an especially relevant and useful set of results to make it worth the extra clicks.
What do you think about Graph Search? Will it be useful to users? Is it a threat to products like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Groupon, etc.? I’d love to hear your thoughts.