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Monday, January 21, 2013

A new Facebook feature will change the way members connect

Last week, Facebook announced the release of Graph Search, a new feature on the social network that allows its members to conduct in-depth searches.

Currently in beta, Graph Search is similar to a search engine. However, instead of finding results from a wide range of websites – a system used by Google – Graph Search finds its answers from content that has only been featured within the Facebook network, including content that has been shared or created by your Facebook connections.

“Graph Search and web search are very different. Web search is designed to take a set of keywords (for example: “hip hop”) and provide the best possible results that match those keywords. With Graph Search you combine phrases (for example: "my friends in New York who like Jay-Z") to get that set of people, places, photos or other content that's been shared on Facebook. We believe they have very different uses.,” Facebook stated in a press release.

Using the original Facebook search feature can be a challenge. If you type in the name of a friend, you do not always find their page. Instead, you will often find many users with similar names but none being the person you that you were looking for.

Like a search engine, Graph Search puts emphasis on activities and interests and provides users with a variety of search options. The search results are all existing Facebook pages and the search terms can be much more specific.

Not only will Graph Search make it easier for social connections, it will most likely be a valuable marketing tool. Because the feature makes it easy for users to discover each other based on common interests, a marketing specialist will have an easier time researching consumers by connecting with specific fans of a brand. Therefore, that specialist can use information acquired at a personal level while creating a marketing strategy.

Not everyone is impressed with Graph Search, however. In a recent CNN review of the new feature, writer Heather Kelly cited several flaws. A notable example was the issue of large, wealthy companies purchasing enough likes to keep themselves at the top of all searches.

It is likely that Graph Search will become a major vehicle for marketing. Although it may have issues at its current stage, Facebook – in its usual fashion – will most likely renovate its feature regularly once it becomes widely available and users will have an improved Facebook experience.