Facebook’s VP of Search Tom Stocky recently announced their new and improved search product Search FYI, which is designed to help users “find what matters.” Now users can tune into what the world is saying about virtually any given topic. In addition to real-time search functionality, Facebook boasts an enormous index of over 2 trillion posts, with some content dating back to 2004.
Facebook is constantly improving their platform with additional features in order to keep visitors on the site longer. Now that Facebook is stepping up their search game, they might eventually start chipping away at Google’s traffic, especially for news stories and trending topics. Meanwhile, earlier this month Twitter introduced their “Moments” news product. As social platforms become “search” platforms, marketers may need to need to start taking “social SEO” more seriously.
Part of what makes Facebook such a unique player in the search industry is their ability to tailor search results for the specific user, based on the user’s location, connections and online behavior. Although Google has done a great job of personalizing search results based on location, search history and several other factors, Facebook has a lot more social data to work with, which could potentially mean better results.
There’s a lot of potential for exponential value in terms of search data. The more that users utilize Facebook’s new search feature, the more data Facebook has to improve the overall user experience. With over 160 million active daily users in the U.S. and Canada alone, there’s a ridiculous amount of content flowing through users’ News Feeds. Search FYI can help Facebook leverage additional data segments to enhance the quality and relevance of the content users see in their News Feed. This could potentially lead to more time on site, which once again means more user data.
Stocky provided a breakdown of some of the new features:
Better search suggestions: When you tap into the search box and start typing, we’ll now offer timely, personalized search suggestions. As you type, we’ll highlight things that are happening right now so you can follow popular stories as they unfold.
Search results with public posts and posts from friends: When you search, you’ll now see the most recent, relevant public posts along with posts from your friends. Search results are organized to help you cut through the noise and quickly understand what the world is saying about a topic in the moment. You also can pull-to-refresh and see the latest public posts.
Find public conversations with search: When a link gets shared widely on Facebook, it often anchors an interesting public conversation. Now there’s a new way to quickly dive into that discussion. With one tap, you can find public posts about a link, see popular quotes and phrases mentioned in these posts, and check out an aggregate overview of sentiment. This feature is a first step—we look forward to people using it and giving us feedback so we can make it even better.
You can try out the new search feature here. When you consider other recent developments, such as Facebook Graph Search, it’s pretty clear that Facebook has its sights set on search. I don’t see Google going away anytime soon, but just as Bing has slowly chipped away at Google’s market share, a juggernaut like Facebook could potentially do the same. In fact, with a user base of over 1.4 billion, I can’t think of any other company that’s in a better position to do so.