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Well, it was only yesterday when the whole tech world was gossiping that "what will World's No.1 social network company announce in the mystery event scheduled to be held at its headquarters in Menlo Park, California on Tuesday.
Some predicted a launch of a new Facebook phone, some said a whole new Messenger or OS is in tow, however, all the chatters came to an end when Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced a new product called Graph Search at the special press event.
Now, if you are thinking, what is this Graph Search? Here's a simple answer to that, it is a new product that is a fully-integrated semantic search engine for the Social Graph, which according to the company will allow Facebook users to search their own personal interweb, rather than the World Wide Web.
Further, the new social search engine will also act as a digital assistant making it easier for the Facebook users to find friends with common interests and locations. Reportedly, Graph Search will look upon for content based on factors including people, places, interests and photos.
At the launch event, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO said explaining the new model, "Most of the content on Facebook isn't public, so you want a way to find things that have been shared with you. You really need to just ask ‘Who are my friends in San Francisco?' and get the answer quickly."
He further added, "Graph search is designed to take a precise query and return to you the answer, not links to other places where you might get the answer. What you've seen today is a really different product from anything else that's out there."
How is Graph Search Different from Google and other Search Engines?
At the press announcement, Zuckerberg also outlined the difference between Graph Search and the other search engines including Google and Yahoo. He claimed that Graph Search is meant to answer questions that are specific to the user and that it will come up with relevant results only.
For example, when searched on Google, the search result can only show you restaurants in New Delhi, a pretty much single dimensional view.
However, when search on Facebook, the results will show the users the restaurants in New Delhi liked by their friends. Adding on, the result will also include choices of friends who actually live in New Delhi, as opposed to those who live elsewhere and more.
Basically, the point was made clear during the conference that Facebook Graph Search will offer virtual representations of real world objects: people, places and things, in contrast to what is provided by the other search engines.
Considerably if you are thinking, when will you get to try on this new Facebook search engine capabilities, it is to inform you that the Graph Search rolls out in limited Beta from January 15, and will be rolled out site-wide "slowly," according to Zuckerberg.
But at the same time, users can go to www.facebook.com/graphsearch to enroll to the waitlist, although this is reserved for US users for the time being.
How to use Graph Search?
Demonstrating Graph Search, Facebook employees Tom Stocky and Lars Rasmussen showed how you can type phrases like "My friends who live in San Francisco, California," or "My friends who work at Google," and "Friends who like Star Wars and Harry Potter."
Results for each search show a list of your Facebook friends, with their profile picture, name, job, month you connected with them, and things that they like which are relevant to year search criteria - Harry Potter films, for example.
Graph Search could allow Facebook to build some new businesses. When a user types in "music my friends like, "TV shows my friends like," or "restaurants liked by my friends from India," the site returns a range of related media content and local businesses, and each listing includes ratings from friends.
Besides a search box, there are also numerous drop down boxes to help you filter results by place of education, place of work, relationship, hometown, interests and more.
To monetize the efforts with the launch of the new social search platform and turn it successful, Facebook has teamed up with Bing to bring web search results to the social network, enabling users to search for local weather reports and more.
For example, when there are no results from Graph Search, appropriate results from Bing will be shown. Reportedly, when asked why the partnership was not developed with Google, Zuckerberg responded, "I would love to work with Google...[if they] honour the privacy of Facebook users...and so far we have not be able to work that out.
The other potential use of this new tool for travel brands is one that promises to make Facebook more money: search ads. Facebook has finally created a place for users to demonstrate intent, which can then be sold to brands looking to advertise their products to users. The compelling aspect here is that the search will be semantic and people-based, forcing marketers to be creative in ways that they target their advertisements to each cohort.
Another area of interest for travel brands, especially locally-based businesses, will be how this search product will be integrated into the mobile experience. If I am visiting a city for the first time, will I be able to search "friends of friends that have checked in nearby me?" The answer is likely yes, and will certainly impact the way that investors price Facebook's stock given the incredible mobile usage statistics coming from the company.
As informed by Mark Zuckerberg right now, the Graph search is only available for desktop experience, while Mobile Graph Search will be coming up sometime in the future.
Hence to enter the mainstream competition with Apple Maps, Google Places, Yelp and others, Facebook will need to hurry up to introduce the mobile version of the same.
But on the other end, taking a look at the search part, Facebook has definitely brought in some tough game-changing competition for platforms like Google and Yelp. Reportedly, Yelp stock already witnessed a dropping, down over 6% after the launch of Graph Search. Besides these major search engines, other international social platforms who need to worry now are Match.com (and other dating sites), LinkedIn, and AngiesList (finding friend-recommended services).