March 19, 2012

How Can Facebook Get On The "Search" Wagon

The great social network has been busy lately; filing for IPO, introducing Timeline for pages, new ad units, Premium on Facebook, Reach Generator, Facebook Offers, etc. 
You can imagine, a network with this size (expected to hit a billion members this year) has to constantly to develop and improve. 

One area that Facebook hasn't been giving enough attention to is Search. Here's what I think Facebook should be doing to get on the "search" wagon. 

What are you talking about?

We all know that Google is the king of Search. You're looking for ANYTHING, you search it on Google. They have left a mark so deep that the word "google" is actually a verb for searching/knowing/finding, etc. 

But with today's ever-growing social connections and user generated content, people are becoming more interested in relevancy and context. They want to find content that their friends are sharing, content that people with similar interests are sharing, content that is "regionally" relevant to them. 

That is why, Google is dying to achieve what Facebook has; Social Connections.

Google has been trying to add a social layer to its search results; their social network Google+ however has been described as a ghost town, Search Plus Your World has also been receiving some criticism. So it seems like Google is not quite getting their social mojo. 

Facebook on the other hand, has a better chance to get the best of both worlds; Social and Search.

Look at the
amount of content being generated on the network daily, Facebook can use that and turn it into the biggest content discovery platform. And with the immense data they have on each user, they can provide contextual relevant content. 

This way instead of being just a social network, they are adding a significant "search" and content discovery edge. 

Google has the content but lacks the social edge, Facebook has the content and the social edge. They just need to 
facilitate the method to search. 

How can Facebook do it? 
I see three main areas where Facebook can effectively deliver in search; Content, People, and News.

Think StumbleUpon with a twist of social. 

People share different types of content daily on the network; images, videos, and articles. Facebook can categorize content that is being shared on the network by topics (music, movies, politics, etc.) where the user can filter by the type of content (images, videos, articles). And maybe show you the hottest content on the network (most liked, shared, or commented on). 

Obviously this will raise some privacy concerns, hence the user should be given the option whether to share publicly when posting. And by default you should be able to search content generated by your connections with that same depth.  

This will also extend a new arm for advertisers, besides showing their ads in news feeds, profiles, etc. they will also have their ads served on Facebook Search Results (just invented the term!) similar to ads on Google's Search Engine Results Page (SERP).  

Wouldn't it be nice to look for people who share similar interests? And maybe add a location layer to it? Let's say you're new in town and looking for some like-minded individuals, I'm pretty sure out of the 800+ million members, there's a big chance you'll find someone interesting nearby. 

This applies to all the other interests in life; music, cooking, photography, dancing, etc. Finding people who share the same passions in life sounds good, doesn't it? 
Other applications to searching people would include couch-surfing and of course dating. With the amount of detail and data each user has, you can search singles in your area who are interested in salsa dancing and sushi ! The interest in this case is determined by the users' likes, groups they've joined, etc.

With the rise of Ambient Social Networking and services like Highlight, Facebook should also give more attention to connecting its database and allowing for people to search in such a location-aware method. 

This one is quite obvious, there is no doubt that social media (including Facebook) has become the source of information on the latest news for most of us. 

But what if you can search the entire network for the latest news happening around the world instead of randomly coming across news showing up in your news-feed? Imagine the amount of real-time news you'll be able to get your hands on! 

With some regional filtering and social twist (trending news or most shared news), Facebook could seriously become you're one and only source of news, taking out news sites and Google News in one hit. 

Facebook has built a huge population and has given advertisers an incredible amount of data for targeting. It's about time they gave some of that reach and flexibility to users, it will only make the network even more interesting to them, thus more interesting to advertisers.

What do you think? Do you see Facebook as more than just a social network? What other areas can Facebook improve? Let me know in the comments section below. 


  1. Great depth and insight. But I think Google Plus has actually seen quite an increase in its popularity recently. Of course Facebook is the undoubted heavyweight champion of social networking but Google is in no slumber, integrating all their services into one interface, pushing YouTube users to use Google Plus, and now simply using Google Plus will highly increase your chances of being found online. Besides if Google is here to stay. So is Google Plus. But you do raise some great points that if used wisely with the new timeline could give Facebook a massive push forward into the unknowns of digital space.

  2. Hi, thanks for your comment.
    I agree with you, I am actually a fan of Google+ and the possibilities it offers for marketers. It is by far the most successful social move by Google since the failure of Buzz and Wave.
    I would love to see more people using it though (other than those in the tech industry).

  3. Have you read this?

  4. Haven't read this one specifically, but I noticed other publishers yesterday talking about the potential of search for Facebook.
    It's really about time, the opportunity is there waiting for Facebook to grasp.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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