Facebook Will Threaten Google When Social Becomes Search Hub

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-06-26 Print this article Print

There's been some support for but mostly blasting of AllFacebook's argument that Facebook's forthcoming Open Graph initiative are setting the company up to challenge Google in search.

While there was a lot of speculation about Facebook's search strategy, the company has confirmed with us that "all Open Graph-enabled Web pages will show up in search when a user likes them."

In short, Web pages for activities, businesses, groups, organizations, people, places, products and entertainment that Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines index will show up in Facebook search results when users search in the social network.

Here's AllFacebook's example:

FB Trip 1.png

Clicking on the link I highlighted brings you to this Marriott listing on TripAdvisor, bringing the user outside Facebook, to TripAdvisor, from within Facebook.

FB Trip 2.png

It's an intriguing idea, but I believe it's a little premature at this point. First, as Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan noted in his comment to the AllFacebook article, the search experience is sorely lacking.

Second, while I believe Facebook has the potential to be the supreme recommendation engine on the Internet, people aren't ready for this yet.

Outside of Silicon Valley insiders, or just flat-out Facebook addicts who spend hours per day on the social network, few people go to Facebook to search the Web and they certainly don't expect to see Web results in their searches.

Search for people? Absolutely. But not the general Web, or for this use case, businesses on the Web.

There are a number of recommendation engine/social search aficionados fueling this speculation because they know that if Facebook can dent Google's search market share, it boosts the long tail for companies like Mahalo, Lijit, Aardvark (this is Google's social search site), Hunch and others. That makes them more valuable.

But Web search on Facebook? It. Just. Doesn't. Happen. At least not intuitively. Organically or accidentally, sure.

Say I'm on Facebook and I want to do a Web search. I know that I can go there and click the Bing button that powers the Web search:

Bing fb.png

Most people don't know this, so most people don't do this. They think social, not search, when they think Facebook.

Buying into the argument that Facebook will soon challenge in search, well, I think that's just buying into the hype that some people want, and some businesses need, to happen. There's been millions invested in recommendation engines and social search.

These parties see Facebook as their meal ticket to propel what is currently a niche experience forward.

There's too much talk about potential and not enough about practice and execution. But it's actually more about what people are ready for. Consumers who aren't geeks don't see the intersection of search and social.

They go to Google for search and Facebook for socialization, two distinct buckets that, while they'll someday merge, are still separate by peoples' practices.

If Facebook is planning a major attack on Google in search, it has the weapon in its Open Graph, with, as AllFacebook likes to say, the like replacing the link.

People aren't using that weapon. Yet.

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