This time around on the Facebook Feature of the Week we're looking at Facebook Graph Search, a relatively new feature designed to improve the search experience.

What is the Graph Search?

Launched in January, Graph Search finds people and pages based on specific searches -- in other words, if you were to search for example “restaurants my friends ate at in London” then anyone included in your friends list who has eaten at a restaurant in London and mentioned it on the site would then appear in the results. The results are based on a person’s likes, photos and check-ins.

Facebook has undoubtedly tapped into the social part of the internet by giving people a place where they can stay in touch with friends, acquaintances, colleagues and family, but Graph Search gives the social network a new purpose.

"Most people today don’t think of Facebook as a place to discover where to eat or what to do, but with this product… it’s so natural to do that," said Facebook CEO, Mark Zukerberg.

Unlike typical search engines, which generate the most popular webpage results, Graph Search results are both relevant and tailored to the individual searcher.

It is also compatible with Bing so users can look at web results relating to a particular topic as well.


A Pillar of the Facebook Community

According to Zuckerberg, Facebook has been based around two primary features: the news feed, where users can see important events and updates from their contacts, and the timeline, where users regulate and curate their profile content. Graph Search has been designed to join these two features and improve its social capabilities.

Facebook has been primarily about mapping out and communicating with the people you already know in the real world, but we’re building a product that can be used in finding people you maybe should know who have common interests [and] people you want to work with,” said Lars Rasmussen, Director of Engineering.

Therefore with Graph Search, Facebook aims to improve upon the communal space idea that it has been designed around.

A Search Opponent for Google?

Despite the fact that Graph Search is still only available in a beta format, CMSWire's Chris Knight believes the feature has potential to grow into a formidable opponent for other search-based companies, if developed properly.

There is far more work for the company to do with the product and it will be some time before it hits mobile, where it could be at its most potent,” he wrote at the time of the launch. “With plenty more to come from the service, including Instagram integration, expect to hear big things from it, and rival services, in the years to come.”

As for marketers, it has the potential to provide them with better understanding of  their platform and how search can play an important role in customer engagement.

Social marketing has already called for marketers and their agencies to break down functional silos, as paid, earned and owned media have become closely linked,” says Russ Martin of Marketing Magazine. “Facebook Graph Search means that marketers not only need to harness social, but search as well.”