If you've ever tried searching Facebook for a specific piece of information, you know how clunky it can be. You might have to navigate to multiple pages before you find it, and even then it may not be exactly what you're looking for.
Facebook took a big step this week in making search within the social network much easier by announcing the launch of Graph Search. Graph Search is an internal search engine that allows you to find things based on the interests and recommendations of friends and also their friends. You'll be able to search on things like restaurants, movies you should see, businesses you might like or photos of your friends taken in a specific city. For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg explained how you can search for "Indian restaurants liked by my friends from India" or "my friends who live in Palo Alto, California and like Game of Thrones." If you're recruiting for a specific job, you could search for friends of a particular person who works at the company you're recruiting for.
So what does it mean to businesses selling a product or service? It's important for a couple of reasons:
1. Purchase decisions. People who search for things on the web tend to be in a purchasing mindset so there's never been a more important time to ensure your business is on Facebook.
2. Advertising. Graph Search will likely offer an opportunity to advertise next to search results, much like you can with Google or the other search engines. This could be a huge revenue opportunity for Facebook, but doesn't look to be an immediate focus. "This could potentially be a business over time, but right now we're focused on building a good user experience," Zuckerberg said.
Facebook is rolling Graph Search out slowly to a limited number of beta testers and will first focus on four main areas -- people, photos, places and interests. The company wants to see how people use the search engine and refine it before launching it "very slowly" to a greater number of users. If you'd like to be among the first to try it, you can sign up for the waitlist.
It's worth noting that Facebook is also taking the issue of privacy seriously with the new function. In a press release, the company explained "we've built Graph Search from the start with privacy in mind, and it respects the privacy and audience of each piece of content on Facebook. It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook."