We like to keep on top of things at Electric Dialogue – so when I heard this morning that Facebook had rolled out an introduction to it’s new “Facebook Graph Search” feature I was really excited to share the news.

This is something long overdue and something which modern social media is begging for – and has been for a while. 

The new concept they’re introducing is something that will revolutionise the way we use Search, the way we use recommendations and the way we find and connect with those around us. A quick glance over the Beta Introduction – here’s a link to it – and you’ll soon see why.

So what makes it different to Google?

Well first of all, you aren’t going to be searching the whole internet with the new Facebook Graph Search – you’re only going to be searching Facebook. And whilst you may (at first) think this sounds limiting, bear in mind all your personal connections are on Facebook and so are all the places, photos and locations they’ve shared and talked about.

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The idea is – you search for something and you get personal results. Truly personal results.

I know Google tried to roll out a similar function last year, where searching with them become slightly more personalised than before (with the Google +1 function, etc) – but even that is nothing compared to this. With the new Facebook Graph Search, every result you’re going to get is personal.

The idea is you can search for things like this:

– Friends in my city who like Mad Men (Maybe you want to chat about the latest episode with someone) 

– Friends who have been to New York City (Maybe you’re going soon and you want to look at photos for inspiration, to see where they visited) 

– Family who live in England (You may need a sofa to sleep on for that distant cousins wedding next summer) 

– Photos of my friends before 2001 (maybe you’re nosy and you want to see who was a cheerleader in highschool) 

– Restaurants my friends have been to in Singapore (It’s a new city, you want to eat somewhere nice. This is the perfect way to find out where your friends enjoyed eating too) 

Facebook Graph Search Beta

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You get the idea. It’s pretty awesome right?

I know right now, that I would use this function a lot. As someone who is currently travelling – and planning to travel 6+ countries next year, I would be using this feature on a regular basis to find out where my friends have been, which attractions they visited in various cities, which restaurants they ate at (chances are, if we’re friends, our tastes are similar. And nothing beats a personal recommendation), which airports they flew into and checked into, which awesome photo opportunities I shouldn’t miss out on, the routes they took, good hotels they stopped in… etc. You get the picture. Basically – with this feature, I don’t need to waste money on an impersonal guide book or even waste time using Trip Advisor. Because I have a wealth of personal recommendations and tips right at my fingertips.

What does Facebook Graph Search mean for Social Media Marketing?

Well, it means that the likes your business is getting – may actually start to matter more. It also means you want to drive engagement more too – and that brand engagement and interaction on Facebook might finally trump engagement on Twitter.

Say for example you run a small italian restaurant in London. If just one person checks into your restaurant, or likes it after their visit – you are now going to be searchable by an entire circle of friends if they search for restaurants in London. Imagine if that person got their whole table to do the same (maybe 4 other people) then you’re now popping up in the Facebook search results for 5 people’s circles. Imagine each person has on average 250 friends on Facebook. You’ve just advertised your business (via a personal recommendation) to over 1000 people free of charge.

I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunities to take advantage of this as the concept becomes more secure and more established. It’s also interesting to note, that this is one of the first major updates on Facebook that it’s users are likely to actually “like”. No pun intended.

This is big. Facebook are used to their users complaining about updates and new features, but this one is promising not just on usability but on longevity too. It’s not going to interrupt your current usage of Facebook (like a new layout, and understanding how it functions would) the new search function is only going to enhance your experience. It’s there if you want it. But if you don’t, that’s fine. I’m sure this is something which is going to work in their favour.

Where does this leave Google?

Well, so far it leaves Google relatively undamaged. As the social search on Facebook is going to be a different thing entirely to the web search on Google. As I mentioned above.

What is interesting though, is something else Facebook have chosen to implement regarding times when no social results can be found for you. When this happens – Facebook will pull in web results from BING – not Google. And if Facebook and Bing have decided to partner up in that way, that may be a very powerful move for Googles biggest competitor.

What do you think?

Personally I can see this function becoming part of my life easily – and I feel like it’s something I’ve been waiting for. What do you think of the changes? Can you imagine this function changing the way you use Facebook and how much you rely upon it?

Check out the demo here on Facebook’s Graph Search and you can even sign up for Beta testing.