By now you’ve probably heard that Facebook released their new Graph Search last week, sort of a Siri meets Google search function specifically for people and places connected to your social circle. Since its release, I’ve read countless articles about how Graph Search is going to take down Google, Match.com, Yelp!, LinkedIn, and pretty much every other site on the internet that isn’t Facebook. Having received access to Graph Search last week and spent some time playing around with it, I think it’s time to throw my two cents in.
Great for Dating, Terrible for Dating Sites
As anyone who’s actively dating will tell you– blind dates are the worst. They’re awkward, uncomfortable, and often a waste of time. People have turned to sites like Match, eHarmony, and Chemistry, because it allows them to pre-screen candidates and get to know them a bit before going on a date. Graph Search takes that concept to the next level. Now, my friends can search “friends of my friends who are male single and live in New York” and instantly be given a list of all of their friends’ single guy friends. Depending on how many friends you have, the search results could be in the thousands, and you’re guaranteed to have people in common with every person on that list. This instantly improves your situation, because it (more likely than not) weeds out all of the strangers and other unsavory people that you’d otherwise have to wade through to find people who may actually be of interest to you. There are two other big advantages over the other major dating sites:
1) Everyone is on it- A recent consumer ranking has match.com leading the industry with 12,000,0000 monthly visitors; everyone knows Facebook now has over 1 billion. This means the odds of finding your match on Facebook is much stronger than anywhere else on the internet.
2) It’s free- Cost is always the biggest barrier to entry and with Facebook’s proven revenue model, they can continue to offer this better, more efficient service to all of their users for free.
Bottom line: Watch out, dating sites. Graph Search is coming for you.
The probability that Graph Search will replace Yelp really depends on your respective social circle. The idea that you can search “restaurants near 10055 that my friends have checked in to”and find places near a certain location that you know have been tested by your friends is helpful. After all, everyone trusts their friend’s taste and is always more likely to put stock in a review from someone they know than from a stranger. But it’s solely dependent on trusting your Facebook friends to check in everywhere they go. If you friends check in everywhere they go on Facebook and leave really helpful comments, then Graph Search will probably replace Yelp for you; most of my friends rarely do either. If Facebook Places really starts to take off in the coming months, or if Facebook does something to really push check-ins and comments, then Yelp could definitely be in trouble; for now, however, I think that they are cemented in as the leader of online reviews.
A Losing Battle for LinkedIn’s Market Share
If you read my blog regularly, you’ve probably inferred by now that I am biased in favor of LinkedIn, because I think they are a great all-around company. That being said, my position that Graph Search is not going to put a dent in LinkedIn probably doesn’t surprise you, but the proof is all there:
– The Search: Most of the articles citing LinkedIn have focused on the recruiter; we’ll get there in a minute. Let’s think for a minute first about the unemployed person. While Graph Search is cool for searching for friends of friends, or restaurants, it won’t return any results for “companies in New York, NY looking for social media strategists”, or “companies hiring an online marketing manager” (you can trust me, I tried this). This makes Graph Search absolutely useless to people who are looking for work, either to find a job or move out of a current position. Score one for LinkedIn.
– The Users: Facebook and LinkedIn have different purposes to their users. Facebook is for friends, LinkedIn is for business, this is common knowledge. So if someone were to find me on Facebook, they’d see I went to Hofstra, maybe find a bit about Sore Thumb Marketing, but they’d mostly get pictures of my most recent trip to Israel and comments from my college buddies about catching up soon. They wouldn’t see anything about my educational background, my prior work experience, my references, any of the stuff you’d commonly find on a resume, things you look for when vetting a candidate. Do you know where someone could go for all of that information? My LinkedIn profile.
– The Recruiter: Finally, at last, we arrive at the recruiters. Little-known fact: Companies pay LinkedIn up to $10,000 per license per month for the ability to browse its user profiles searching for the best and brightest in the country (Note: if you’re not on LinkedIn, get there now). Why are companies willing to pay so much? Because it’s the single best tool available with the single largest pool of applicants in the world. Conversely, Graph Search is predicated on two key facts: The information has to be already be a part of your social network, and it has to be publicly shared with you. Let’s consider the options:
– With LinkedIn, you can search every single candidate, across the board, no matter where they live, whether or not you know them, or how private they keep their private life.
– With Graph Search, you are searching for candidates who you hope are already in your social network and have the qualifications you’re looking for and haven’t set their privacy to “Only Me” or “Friends” or some other custom setting that prevents you from seeing the information you need.
Safe to say that LinkedIn is here to stay.
If you haven’t gotten your access to Graph Search yet, I highly recommend you sign up, it’s a lot of fun to play with, even for non-business purposes (I personally recommend “Photos that (insert close friend) and I have liked” to get a nice random selection of old pictures), and will also be very useful as Facebook continues to improve their new tool.