My Hands on with Facebook Graph Search- in simple words

My Hands on with Facebook Graph Search- in simple words
Graph Search is nothing but a search engine by Facebook. With 1.44 billion active users or 936 million daily active users, as of March 31,2015, Facebook is sitting on some Big Data, ready to be used by the masses, and now via its Graph Search. Graph Search was launched in September 2013 and is listed as one of the products of Facebook, in its Company details.

What is Graph Search?

Graph Search is a search engine that is integrated with Facebook’s social graphs. The search engine processes natural language queries to return information from across the user’s social network of friends and connections or beyond, depending on the search. (Source:

Looks complicated? I shall try simplifying its use to you in this blog post.

Just as you would Search Google or any other search engine, now on Facebook you can do much more specific searches related to the audience, your friends, locations, interests, pages they like, etc. For those with a marketing bend in mind, a lot of it can be useful data for them. You can use Graph Search only from your person profile not from your Page or other Facebook Product (app, Eric.) profile.

This is what Facebook has to say:
“With Graph Search, you can search across the information that’s been shared with you on Facebook. Find people, places, photos and other info using simple phrases like “Photos of my friends in Paris”—just type in the search bar. Graph Search beta is available for a limited audience in the US and UK, and work is under way to expand it to other audiences and mobile devices.”To aid your understanding, you can go through some of the Blog Posts & Article on the topic. Some questions are answered on Quora on “Facebook Graph Search”. You may go through those as well, but some of them are quite technical (esp. if you are not a techie)

But my objective in this post is to understand how to put this search engine to a better use and unleash this information to you. I have tried adding examples on how this relatively new search engine has helped me understand my audiences, my competitors, my Pages etc.

If you compare it with Google, the two have different objectives. Mark won’t want you to leave its Website, whereas Google’s Philosophy says:

“We know your time is valuable, so when you’re seeking an answer on the web you want it right away–and we aim to please. We may be the only people in the world who can say our goal is to have people leave our website as quickly as possible”

What is in it for Facebook: In simple words- ‘establish itself for search based ads revenues (CPM, CPC, etc.)  rather then just pushing paid ads.’
And as this article headline goes:

Graph Search: Facebook’s Way of Keeping You Inside of Facebook (Video)

However, Questions are:
Is FGS going to give you organised search data without hampering your privacy?
Is it a promising Social Search?
Is it going to be helpful for SMEs?
Is it just a stalking means or will it help the marketers?
Lets keep the objective of finding and stalking people aside, and focus on the more productive and helpful part.

I tried the following searches with clear marketing objectives in mind:

  1. To understand the market for an app, product,etc.-People in India who play Game of Thrones
  2. For networking while travelling– Friends of friends who have lived in Canada
  3. Do people like my Page– Friends of friends who like aChange . Friends of friends who like MBAclubindia (a Page)
  4. Who are my target segment among my friends (or friends of friends)-Friends who were born in 1983
  5. What is everybody else reading-Books liked by my friends – I found the list under the category -Pages.
  6. To understand where my friends belong/their likes  Pages liked by my friends. (But I was not able to search Clothing Pages liked by my friends) Graph Search does not give you such specific searches.
  7. For inspiration on some project (personal or professional)– Photos of toddlers by photographer’s
  8. Hiring: Use graph search using natural language to explore the talent and candidate pool. More details in the following link I came across:

    3 Essential Ingredients to Spice Up Your Sourcing and Recruiting with Facebook Graph Search

Graph Search on Books liked by my friends
Graph Search on People in India who play Game of Thrones

Likewise, search under the appropriate category of Graph Search. Are you searching for Apps, People, Pages, Photos, Events, etc.? That would help you give better results and even help you understand Graph Search better.

I can thus understand things about any of my Created or Administered Pages. Understand my target segment a bit more, their habits, etc. Garner networking opportunities while am travelling or during emergency, etc.

Now you have to understand the categories, and refine your search accordingly.
To begin understanding this, visit your Facebook Profile page and see what does it say about you and how does it categorise them? It says about your Likes to Pages, Games, Movies, Aps you have liked , etc. It says about your date of birth, your marital status, places you have worked etc.

All these data are getting pulled in while you type a Graph Search.

Now does that arise Privacy issues? Yes it does. 

If people have not put in sufficient information in their profiles, it would not reflect in the Graph searches. I once got a list of people, most of whom  were married, and even included male people,  when I searched- “Friends of friends who are single and female”.
So unless, you are searching appropriately “using natural language”, you would get haphazard results.

Graph search would only show the data that you could view. If you have set your privacy details well, then you should not be concerned with privacy issues. But the naive ones need to gear up  and check their privacy settings.

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