Facebook Search: Why It's Still a Threat to Google


In 2013, Facebook sent shockwaves through the universe when it announced Graph Search, which basically turned Facebook into a search engine – much to the dismay of Google. It has changed a bit since then (search results are indexed by Facebook, not Bing), but it’s still a threat to Google, which we’ll get into in a minute.

First, let’s look at what you can do on Facebook Search:

  • Find friends, just like always
  • Use keywords to find photos, posts, videos, links, hashtags, and locations

It doesn’t sound that scary, but when you start digging, you realize that, yeah, Facebook Search is definitely a threat to Google. Here’s why:

Facebook Search is semantic

A semantic search means you’ll get results based on the context of your search terms, thus greatly improving the accuracy and relevance of what you’re looking for. If I do a search on “Girls season 4,” Facebook Search knows I’m looking for the HBO show – especially if I have posted about the show on my wall.

Facebook Search allows detailed queries

Because Facebook Search “reads” your search query, it actually works better with super detailed queries, like, “friends in the US who have watched Girls season 4.” Try getting results for that query on Google!

We trust our friends over strangers

Zillions of studies have proven that we trust recommendations from friends above and beyond anything else. Just look at these results from a huge Nielsen study on Trust in Advertising. A whopping 84 percent of us trust recommendations from people we know, which is head and shoulders ahead of any branded content or other types of ads.

If you are planning a trip to, say, London, you can search for “friends who have visited London,” and see where they’ve stayed and dined, and what they did when they were there. I don’t know about you, but I will trust my fellow foodie friends over Zagat or Yelp.

We get more personal results

This leads me to my next point. Because Facebook already knows quite a bit about you (I know that scares the bejeezus out of some people) AND it uses semantic search AND it pulls up results from your friends, your search results are automatically more personalized for you.

We can potentially learn more – or at least more useful stuff

Because our search results are so specific to us, we can potentially learn a lot more – and learn it faster – than by conducting a Google search. More personalized results faster? Yes, please!

Facebook Search was created by two ex-Googlers

Lars Rasmussen and Tom Stocky were hired away from Google to work on Facebook Search. Enough said.

What does all of this mean for a small business?

If your clients talk about or mention you on Facebook, that word-of-mouth marketing can have a significant impact on your bottom line.

What do you think? Is Facebook Search a threat to Google?


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