Facebook Just Made Your “Friends” More Likeable with Graph Search

By now you’ve heard the news that Facebook has announced Graph Search, eloquently explained here by Steven Levy at Wired. While the tech world buzzes about Google’s reaction, the everyday user of Facebook is trying to make sense of it all – and probably worried that marketers are going to stalk them even more now – and privacy activists are sure to help them shake in their boots.

But let’s slow down for a minute. Isn’t garnering information from your friends and fans a good thing? Don’t you want to better understand your network, and be able to both gain and share information in a more targeted way? For example, I don’t want to bombard all of my “friends” with my current diet habits as I’m doing a 21-day Paleo challenge. But I would love to know which friends have also done it in the past, what their experience was, and any advice they have to share. Sure, I can post that question on my timeline, but it’s momentary – maybe some friends will see it, but many will not as it gets buried within the rest of their scrolling “news.” I also don’t want to ask the question and tag people because it’s just obnoxious how the question is then plastered on their Wall (or in their notifications, pending approval), and I’m not totally sure which of my 1300 or so friends it would be appropriate to ask. It’s just not a very gracious way to ask your network questions. In fact, here’s what it looks like right now in Facebook:

But from what I understand, with Graph Search, I can easily do just what the name implied – search my network (social graph)  and find those in it who might be interested in this particular topic, based on their updates, information and posts. I could query “friends of mine who have tried Paleo,” and Facebook would immediately provide me with data that I could then use to ask an appropriate question – or share information – to friends who might actually care. That means I annoy less and connect better on topical information. Or, perhaps you’re interviewing for a new job and you want to know if any of your friends have worked at the company you’re considering. Not many of us know the career history of all of our “friends,” and we’re not about to go searching through everyone’s bio – on Facebook or on Linkedin, for that matter. If Facebook could deliver an instantaneous list of “friends who have worked at EMC,” for example, you could easily ask them what it was like, if they recommend it, etc. (Granted, Linkedin allows you to search by people/companies.)

But what about privacy?

This is, understandably, always the first question that comes to mind when Facebook makes a new announcement. We’ve been conditioned not to trust them, and often we have reason. But again, from what I understand, Graph Search simply allows you to make better use of information already available to you. They’re not unveiling information you’re not already sharing – they’re just indexing it in a way that allows your friends and fans to easily search it at any time.

Personally I’ve been wanting Facebook to make it easier to search details on my network. Yes, I have lists and privacy settings, and as long as Facebook is honoring those, I’m happy to be able to go back into someone’s “archives” in a more organized and instant way to find relevancy to what I want to ask or share. Nothing’s changed from the old adage, “If you wouldn’t put it on a billboard, don’t put it on a social network.” (No matter what the privacy settings. )

And anyway – didn’t we all already know that the Internet is forever?

Here are a few of the more choice quotes from Levy’s article – they may help you quick study the news:

  • Nobody has feared this day more than Google, which suddenly faces a competitor able to index tons of data that Google’s own search engine can’t access.
  • Facebook is helping them [users] tap its vast, monolithic database to make better use of their “social graph,” the term Zuckerberg uses to describe the network of one’s relationships with friends, acquaintances, favorite celebrities, and preferred brands.
  • “People use search engines to answer questions,” Zuckerberg says. “But we can answer a set of questions that no one else can really answer. All those other services are indexing primarily public information, and stuff in Facebook isn’t out there in the world — it’s stuff that people share. There’s no real way to cut through the contents of what people are sharing, to fulfill big human needs about discovery, to find people you wouldn’t otherwise be connected with. And we thought we should do something about that. We’re the only service in the world that can do that.”
  • Thanks to Graph Search, people will almost certainly use Facebook in entirely new ways: to seek out dates, recruit for job openings, find buddies to go out with on short notice, and look for new restaurants and other businesses. Most strikingly, it expands Facebook’s core mission — not just obsessively connecting users with people they already know, but becoming a vehicle of discovery.
  • Graph Search will be improved based on how people actually use it. So Facebook plans a slow introduction, limiting the initial rollout to a small number of users. Zuckerberg’s expectation is that by the time it becomes available to millions it will be considerably improved.

And, as GigaOm tells us, “It makes finding new things much easier, but you can only see what you could already view elsewhere on Facebook.”

As a marketer, I can’t help but be excited about this news – discovering, sharing and positioning information is what we do for a living. But I’m also interested from a personal standpoint because I think it will make me a better Facebook “friend” in many ways. What do you think? Are you excited or nervous about this rollout?

ADDENDUM 

I just learned from Robert Scoble that you can sign up to try it: “To get the Graph Search on Facebook you have to sign up at http://facebook.com/graphsearch and it will roll out over next few months.”

I did, and here’s a look at the sample search it ran for me – looks good, although I’d love to be able to query something more specific.

 

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/02/11

Measure Metrics6 Social Media Metrics for SMBs To Track
Congrats! You’ve finally launched your brand on a few social platforms and you’re starting to make some headway with your efforts – but, how do you really know if you’re doing it right or if its working? Tracking a few basic metrics will help keep you on track, and Lisa Barone suggests a few to help get you started via this post on SmallBizTrends.com.

Social Media And The Modern Startup
Fast Company Expert Blogger Aaron Arnold explains how “social media allows early adopters to share the experience without the risk of being the entrepreneur creating it” via his own personal experience.

Social Media Policies: Let’s Talk About What You Should Do
Creating a social media policy for your organization can be a tricky task. Its almost like you need to be controlling without being controlling, right? Most organizations base their policies on telling employees what they can’t do when it comes to using social media. This GigaOm.com post from 

Video and Social Media Marketing: Getting C-Suite Executives To Lead

How Barbie & Ken Were Reunited by Social Media
Mashable‘s Erica Swallow began writing about Mattel’s social campaign to reunite Barbie and Ken earlier this year, and I selected her initial post as a Persuasive Pick back in January. This week, she follows up with more detail about the campaign and shares the results of its success.

Image Credit: RambergMediaImages

Persuasive Picks for the week of 03/28/11

Phil Collins Rolling Stones Cover7 Social Media Lessons From Phil Collins
Marjorie Clayman guest posts on Jay Baer‘s Convince and Convert blog with this entertaining post that draws parallels between Phil Collins‘ career and social media best practices.

Do You Need a Social Media Detox?
Creating a balance between social media responsibilities at work and personal time can be a tricky task, and sometimes it can be overwhelming. GigaOm‘s Om Malik shares this fun info-graphic from Column Five Media that might help determine if you’re in need of a Social Media Detox.

15 Services to Manage Your Social Media Activity
If my previous pick found you in the need of a detox – but quitting cold-turkey isn’t in the cards – then perhaps one of these social media management tools can ease the flow of the information fire hose.

With +1, Google Search Goes Truly Social — As Do Google Ads
Google launched its anticipated “response” to Facebook’s Like button in the form of its new “+1″ button which will appear in Google search results and later as a standalone button that can be added to individual websites. Get the full rundown via this TechCrunch post from MG Siegler.

Our Choice: The Funniest April Fools’ Jokes
Seeing that this work week ends on April Fool’s Day, it’s only fitting that I top off the picks with Mashable‘s selection of online pranks from the likes of Google, YouTube, LinkedIn and ThinkGeek.

2010: So Far, So Good at PerkettPR

I’m excited to share some good news from our agency – news focused on growth, hard work and expansion, thanks to the dedication of the amazing staff at PerkettPR. We’ve kicked off 2010 with a new attitude – shaking off the cobwebs of 2009 and jumping right into the New Year with a “Best Tech PR” finalist nod from the tech community in January’s Crunchies (co-hosted by GigaOm, VentureBeat and TechCrunch), as well as the recent addition of several new clients across healthcare, technology and higher education. We also expanded our footprint into the Research Triangle region near Raleigh, NC.

Client details are below. More fun facts – including what we’re doing and where we’ll be in 2010 – are in the accompanying video or the full press release.

Some of our new clients include:

HealthLeap(New York, New York) – Bridging the communication gap between doctors and patients to improve care, compliance and practice profitability through free, web-based appointment software.

Northeastern University College of Business Administration– (Boston, Mass.) – Established in 1922, the College of Business Administration provides its students – undergraduate, graduate, and executive – with the education, tools, and experience necessary to launch and accelerate successful business careers.

Norwell Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice(Norwell, Mass.) – Founded in 1920 and the only independent nonprofit home health care agency serving Boston’s South Shore.

Proliphix (Westford, Mass.) – The leading provider of Internet-managed energy control systems.

St. Louis Children’s Hospital – (St. Louis, Mo.) – Founded in 1879, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is one of the premier children’s hospitals in the United States serving children around the world.

VersionOne– (Atlanta, Ga.) – VersionOne is recognized by Agile practitioners as the leader in Agile project management tools.  By simplifying the process of planning and tracking Agile software projects, they help development teams consistently deliver software faster.

Thanks for all of your continued support. (PS We’re actively recruiting – especially in Mass. and Calif.)

Who Caught Your Eye in 2007? Tell the Crunchies Committee

Anyone that hasn’t had a chance to nominate for the Crunchies Awards should take a look and place votes for your favorite sites, people and emerging tech companies of 2007.

Nominations are only open through tomorrow, December 12, so log on and list your favorites now. The Crunchies Committee will then choose five finalists from the submissions and voting will start on December 13 and last for approximately one month.

If you are looking for some inspiration on who to vote for, check out some of PerkettPR’s clients nominated for selection this year:

Conduit ; “best international start-up” – community toolbars

Moola.com ; “best time sink site,” “best consumer start up” and “best international start up” – the world’s first Massively Multiplayer Rewards Game (MMRG)

Ezmo ; “best consumer start up” and “best international start-up” – social music sharing

Sosius ; “best business model” – free online collaborative workspaces

Here’s some additional background on the awards from the Crunchies blog:

“Together GigaOm, Read/WriteWeb, VentureBeat and TechCrunch are pleased to announce that nominations for the inaugural 2007 Crunchies Awards are now open.

We created twenty award categories to recognize the year’s most innovative technical, creative and business accomplishments of key companies, products and people. We hope you’ll agree that the award categories are good reasons for celebration and fit for a proper ceremony.

We invite you to submit your favorite companies and products for consideration. Read the official rules. Nominations will be open through midnight pst Wednesday, December 12. Finalist voting will open Thursday, December 13 and run for approximately one month before the awards ceremony on Friday, January 18 in San Francisco.”