There was mild hype generated before Facebook’s new foray into the search engine venture but I eagerly waited for it. I was finally able to test Graph Search about two weeks ago and I say I was not that “impressed”. It did not even look that overwhelming at first but then I found out that after spending more time using it, it actually worked just fine, very fine even. And it is fast!
Now it is understandable for many Facebook users that this new search feature will signal a new threat to their privacy. I had the same concern when Graph Search was announced but thankfully Facebook is more than aware of the issue too. First and foremost, Graph Search is tied to one’s privacy settings, which means that any photos or posts only being shared to your friends will remain so in Graph Search.
However important privacy concerns are, this article is not dedicated to address these issues. Instead, I would like to point out the positive things that makes this new feature a positive development for Facebook this year. Below are what makes Graph Search a truly excellent addition to Facebook’s current offerings to its users:
- Enhancing connections and professional network. Graph Search can potentially help you establish stronger ties with friends and acquaintances in your professional circle. If you have tried using LinkedIn in the past, Graph Search is similar, but with a faster search result like what Google does.A search like “”People who work at [Company Name]” can be used to give you results from your network. Great at finding those friends that might help you land a spot in a company. You can send a private message to a friend after using it. Graph Search also offers searching by position and other details. You can also look for people working for other firms who share the same interests.
- Great for planning who to see, and looking for friend’s places to stay on trips. Planning a travel itinerary is made easy by Graph Search, especially if you’re looking forward to spend some time with friends or old acquaintances. You can search for “Friends of friends who live in [City Name]” or “Friends who live in [City Name]“. Again there is great potential here as you can make connections and get recommendations this way. There are also more advanced searches like “Friends of friends who live in [City Name] and work at [Company Name]” or “Friends of friends who live in [City Name] and like [interest]“. These searches offer many interesting results and will show how many friends in common you have.
- Keeping tab of who are not in your friend’s list yet. Just like in real physical world, it is always interesting to befriend people. Graph Search can help you find friends who are not yet included in your Facebook circle of friends. For instance, you can use “People who work at [Company Name] and who I am not friends with” option to further refine your results. Again the system will sort by mutual friends. You can also narrow down your search by using more specific search terms in between like “Friends of my friends who like Los Angeles Lakers and who I am not friends with”. The results will give you more interesting options especially the number of how many mutual friends you have.
- Knowing your friends’ likes. Again this option offers leeway for creativity. I have found some really good books and movies to read and see by using the searches “Books my friends like” or “Movies my friends like”. If you want more specific results, you can try the phrase “Books my friends who work at [Company Name] read,” or “Favorite music of my friends who live in Buffalo, New York”. There will be many variations in the results as you factor in different terms. It is a fun way to dig around for more information about specific friends. You can go crazy by searching for “Favorite interests of my friends who are female” , or “Favorite sport teams of [Friend's name] who went to [College Name] working at [Company name].
- Searching for liked photos or photos of interest. There’s always something in photos that attracts us, or lifts our spirits up when we’re down. That’s why Instagram became quite a hit in a short time for million of users. Now Facebook gives us an option to search for photos that might just be great when we are having a bad day or simply feels like looking for fun. For instance, you can search the phrase “Photos of dogs”, and anyone tagged to a certain Facebook page about dogs will pop up. The page with the most likes or comments will usually appear at the top, decreasing the number of spam or photos you may not like. You can also look for photos taken in particular locations or by a certain date.
- Finding mutual friends. Another great feature if you want to befriend someone or just met someone. While this was already available before Graph Search, it’s amazing though to note how fast Graph Search can churn out relevant results. Typing “[Person's Name]‘s friends who are my friends” gives you near instant list of relevant search results. This is useful if you are looking for some “famous people” or those you admire but not friends yet. You can ask a friend to do an introduction for you through this. Each result would also display the length of time they have been friends along with other context.
- More than just for search queries. Graph Search is a great tool to navigate the site. It remembers your previous searches thus it saves you time in typing your queries. If you have been searching for “New York Jets” several times, Graph Search will give you that option right away after typing a few letters so you can hit the enter key on the keyboard faster. Typing in a few letters of a friend’s name will give you what you are looking for as well. As Graph Search stores your queries, it makes your future queries faster and gives you more relevant information compared to the old search engine.