You've probably heard the buzz about Facebook's new "Graph Search".
If you haven't or don't know what it is, Graph Search is basically Facebook's answer to Google -- but with a much deeper social component.
ShortStack did a spot poll about users' reactions to the app, and here's what they said:
*49.67% had no opinion
*24.84% said they were disappointed
*19.61% said it's cool, but not quite what they had expected
*5.88% said it was what they were hoping for
I'm not surprised by these initial responses, seeing that most people thought the announcement was going to be about a major Timeline or newsfeed change again (which apparently will happen this week).
Facebook users have long been crying out for a better search option. The search options before Graph Search were confusing and not all that helpful.
All the results were basically pages and people -- and you could never find things quickly and easily.
Graph Search has changed this.
Now you can search things like "Cities my Friends have Visited in 2012" or "Music my Friends Like", etc.
Graph Search is a hugely ambitious endeavor for Facebook -- and if they do it right, it will completely change the search game.
Word of mouth has always been the best form of marketing. Why else are some of the richest people on the internet MLM businesses?
MLM is all about people you know selling stuff you want or need.
With Graph Search you will no longer need to go to Google to search for a restaurant in your town -- which typically will only show results based on creative SEO tactics or bought ads. Instead you search on Facebook and see restaurants your family and friends have visited and liked.
And this is a big BUT!... here's where things get tricky.
With Graph Search if you have "Liked" the local BBQ joint when a friend searches for "BBQ in Texas that my friends like" you'll get results such as this:
Looks harmless right?
Yeah, maybe so for this search. But what about other searches?
Notice above how the search results list some of my friends who have "Liked" pages related to these BBQ places. This tells me my friends have "Liked" the pages of these places but also implies that they actually "like" the restaurant and their food as well.
What I don't know is whether Buddy Cuevas enjoyed eating at The Salt Like (which I'm sure he did!) or not -- or if he just Liked their page.
Graph Search doesn't tell me if these people have actually checked in and eaten there -- or if they've just clicked Like on the page associated with the restaurant.
This is a problem Facebook will need to figure out (and I'm sure they will).
But in the meantime... your act of "Liking" an establishment's fan page has effectively become a "Recommendation" or "Endorsement" of that restaurant in Graph Search results -- even if your Like was only about seeing the page's updates in your News Feed.
See how misleading this can be?
A step further
Maybe you're applying for a job to work with kids, or at a church, or any other job for that matter -- and the boss is a friend on Facebook. What if he searches for "Friends that Like Playboy" and your name shows up in the results?
Could this prevent you from getting hired?
Would you be embarrassed if even your friends saw you "Liked" Playboy's Facebook page?
Now, with Graph search, you haven't just "Liked" the page on Facebook -- you've effectively told everyone: "Hey! I think this XYZ is great!... and you should go buy it or eat there or work there".
Here's a quick screen grab of some of my friends that have "Liked" the Playboy page. Granted, I don't think they'd care if others saw this -- but I did blur out their names and faces:
So What Should You Do?
Be smart with your Likes.
With Graph Search in beta and rolling out to everyone soon, I personally will be changing my "Like" habits. Instead of Liking every page I find -- especially restaurants and brick and mortar stores -- I'll be more careful about what I Like.
I'd recommend you do the same.
Because your "Like" is no longer simply saying you've "Liked" a Facebook page. Now you're RECOMMENDING the company/product/brand to your friends and everyone else on the web.
And you may not want to do that.