Why Facebook’s Graph Search Doesn’t Matter

Why Facebook’s Graph Search Doesn’t Matter

FacebookLast week Facebook launched another new feature, Graph Search. When I heard the name my eyes glazed over – it sounded far too like a high school math class to me. In many ways it is. There have already been hundreds of posts about the amazing new feature, how it will empower, enhance and otherwise improve the lives of those using Facebook. Except it won’t.

Facebook and other tech companies have, in recent years, fallen into the habit of solving problems no one has. Facebook Graph Search is yet another example of that. Of course marketers are all excited about the prospect of being able to find more people on Facebook, especially via their interests and those who make a living via networking and selling affiliate type programs are no doubt excited about the opportunities to plague more people with their messages.

But for the average Facebook user, those with that magic number of 130 connections or less, they could care less. Even the geekiest of them. My girlfriend is a geek, she is not only a geek but a math geek, she can do things with numbers in her head that I still can’t manage on a calculator. I often use a combination of her and a friend of mine who is the same age as me and only three months ago got an email account, as my acid tests for whether Social Media is progressing or simply becoming more “inside baseball”.

Let’s take my girlfriend first. She uses Facebook to stay caught up with family and friends, to post pictures that make her laugh that she finds on Pinterest, to stay in touch via Facebook messenger with my daughters (who knows what they scheme over in those messages!) but the one thing she isn’t looking for is to grow her network, she has no need to. If she wants to make friends with someone she does it in person. Now my friend with the new email account. He has looked at Facebook, his wife uses it in much the same way as my girlfriend, but he sees no advantage to it in his life, I doubt he will ever have a Facebook account. Personally I’ve spent the last six months culling connections from Facebook and have reduced the size of my network by almost 50% to absolutely no detriment. In fact the experience is much improved.

So who is Graph Search for? It is for those inside Social Media. That is the problem, Facebook, Google et al are producing products for people who are in the industry, not the average users. Those in the industry and by the “industry” I mean those making a living at least tangentially connected with the internet, are easily impressed by new features, things they believe will make their experience better, but that is because they spend the majority of their days on sites like Facebook. The reality is that the real majority of Facebook users don’t spend all that time on the site.

I’d rather see Facebook improving the mobile version of their site, making it something stable and useable than rolling out more “meta features” that serve only to feed the echo chamber of Social Media guru’s trying to convince the world that it can’t live without Social Media.

Are you excited to see Facebook Graph Search?

About Simon Salt

Simon Salt has been creating online content since 1993 and blogging since 2000. He is an author, speaker and digital strategist. He can be found on most social networks as "incslinger". When he isn't working he is either taking photographs or riding his motorcycle - sometimes at the same time.

  • Doug Wick

    Hi Simon, nice post. I think you are right. I don’t think Facebook has had a strong user-minded product culture for some time (since they got to critical mass nearly a decade ago) – they are far more dedicated to expanding the offering for brands and marketers. I imagine product management at Facebook is a rough job – a lot of incredible user-centric features getting shot down because they conflict with the business model, and a lot of brand-centric features getting shot down because they would damage the current user experience too much. Simply getting something out is probably a “sigh of relief” moment, even if you know in your heart that you didn’t move the needle for anyone.

    • http://www.theincslingers.com/blog Simon Salt

       Doug – thank you. Yes I agree Product Management from a user perspective must be a nightmare at Facebook. I really wish the team would see the sense in achieving some kind of balance between users and marketers.