Could Graph Search FAIL?


Could Facebook Graph Search FAIL?

After promoting my latest post What Does Graph Search Mean for Your Business, I got a reply from Tom at Global Web Index on LinkedIn.  He linked me to some very interesting data that indicates Graph Search may have a tough time competing with Google.  Lets dig into some charts below.

Zuckerberg stated, “There are so many people on Facebook, you can get a really good signal really quickly.”  The problem is that Graph Search is entirely dependent upon the input Facebook users make.  This is the major obstacle to creating a search product that can compete again Google.

Let’s look at some figures.  Although 76% of the global Internet population has a Facebook account, 25% don’t use their account at all, this equates to hundreds of millions of inactive, irrelevant accounts.

Below I have presented data from Global Web Index (GWI) from Q4 2012.  This shows that while 80% of users have shared a photo, only 60% of active users posted a public comment in the past month and more importantly, just 72% of users who are active on at least a monthly basis have actively managed their profile in that time.


We see in the chart below, growth of active users is concentrated in passive or frictionless sharing actions & behaviors, such as “purchasing a product or service” or watching a TV show or film, this growth has been huge throughout 2012.    Other growth areas are conversations with brands as social customer service evolves.


At the market level, the biggest change in users actively posting comments is in emerging growth markets, which are generally non-English language.  In the mature Facebook markets we see a decline due to passive frictionless behaviours.

This is an ever increasing problem for Graph Search because active contribution about daily activates is falling in developed English language markets like the US and UK.  This type of data is essential to the proper functioning of Graph Search.

The research & data provided by GWI indicates a shift from interacting with friends to a more frictionless use of social data to navigate and discover the web and world around us.  Data will not be user contributed but, aggregated about the user.

This gives Google the advantage.  It is easier to lay social and personalized data over a search product that aggregates the entire internet and links that to users.  Facebook is only aggregating what exists on Facebook or what users have shared.   To bring this data into Graph Search will prove to be a huge technological challenge, not to mention the privacy issues that will surely crop up.

 Have you noticed a drop in daily updates from your friends?  Have you stopped posting what you’ve had for lunch and opted to only share valuable content with your friends?   Please let me know in the comments below, I certainly have reduced the number of pointless updates telling my friends everything I’m doing throughout the day!