Whenever I’m talking to a client and trying to explain to them why Facebook is such a powerful business tool (when appropriate), I use the following analogy:
“People who use Facebook see Facebook as the internet. If you are able to enable your customers / users / fans to do everything they want / need to do within Facebook, your brand will be seen as ‘amazeballs’ in their eyes.”
Facebook is the internet for many people. The big thing is that once a user is in Facebook, they don’t like to be taken out if this environment. They want to be able to do whatever they like, or whatever you need them to do, within the platform. So allowing your customers to use Facebook as a tool to make their lives easier, and allowing them to share and be social, is extremely powerful.
Facebook Graph Search
Facebook has taken the social network to new heights with the assumed aim to entrench it even deeper in the online user’s day-to-day activities. As if partnering with Bing wasn’t a bold enough move in itself, Facebook has launched its new Graph Search for personal accounts, which could potentially make the distinction between Facebook and the wider internet even blurrier for the average user.
An insider’s view
According to The Verge, which received an invitation to try out the new feature, the entire top menu bar has been redesigned, with universal search pinned to the top left, while the friend request, messages, and notification buttons moved over to the far right of the screen. The icons’ design and colour schemes have also undergone a makeover, but most surprisingly the “Facebook’ branding no longer appears on the top left, and has been replaced by a small ‘f’ logo. Possibly in an attempt to prompt users to “search for people, places and things.”
Facebook revealed most of this during the launch, but it’s still a big move in terms of branding and perhaps a little bit of a cocky one. Removing the actual brand name assumes that every person in the world who lands on the site will know exactly what where they are without the name even being visible. But when you are Facebook, I suppose you can make bold statements like that.
The Verge goes on to state that when you hover your mouse over the ‘f’ logo it changes to a magnifying glass, and clicking into the search field offers primary search options: friends, photos, restaurants, games, music, photos, and more. This means that Facebook users have the opportunity to search from a range of things within their own personal context.
The search is also intelligent and will pick up the user’s location so as to only serve search results relevant to where you are. So if you search ‘restaurants nearby’ it will show a list of restaurants within your vicinity. This plays in the Foursquare space, and seems an interesting way for Facebook to take on the geolocation social giant, considering that Facebook Places is fairly limited in comparison.
But it gets better
Facebook is all about people, connecting and being social, so why shouldn’t your search be? You can now go as far as to search for restaurants, places, bars, etc. that your friends have been to, have liked, or recommended.
Users will be able to search Facebook for “restaurants nearby my friends like” which will, in theory, return a lot more relevant results. So if you are a vegan who is friends with and hangs out with other vegans, and who puts “restaurants nearby my friends like” in the search bar, Facebook is unlikely to serve up a list of steak houses in your area.
Monkey see monkey do
This is an amplification of the power of social networks, review sites, and personal experiences and why they have become so critical. Users can use the new Facebook Graph Search to find restaurants, bars, clubs or even companies that their friends like, have been to or recommend.
The search can go even deeper and terms like “pictures taken at restaurants nearby my friends like,” will populate the screen with photos taken at nearby restaurants that a user’s friends have been to, are might actually be at. One could also search using the phrase “pictures taken at restaurants that my friends have posted.” Although the difference might be subtle, the results will be quite different and by allowing this degree of search-ability within Facebook, it will become a lot more specific relevant and personal to its users.