Now that the initial hype has settled down around Facebook Graph Search, we’ve had time to sit and think about who stands to gain from the social network’s entry into the search arena.
And we’ve come to a few conclusions. Which will have Microsoft celebrating, and a number of other companies staring into the middle distance with fear in their eyes.
Obviously Facebook will be the big winners as, for a few days at least, people ignore the plummeting stock prices and slight drops in users and concentrate on what could be a very important development in the way we use the web. But we don’t think they have the most to gain from Graph Search.
The Big Winner – Bing
Let’s get one thing clear. Graph Search isn’t a search engine. It’s a search function. It’s only going to deliver pertinent results for queries that want to find Facebook data. If you put in a standard search term, you’re not going to get a Graph Search result.
You’re going to get a Bing result. And that could have real repercussions for Microsoft’s market share. Because the backlash against Google’s ham-fisted approach to privacy and social data is having measurable effects on it’s market share. People are beginning to try other search engines, and it’s Bing that benefits – slowly gaining a larger audience half a percent at a time.
If Facebook builds up a userbase for Graph Search, a large percentage of that audience will become more comfortable with Bing results. And that will turn their heads away from Google and towards Bing.
Which could be enough to turn Bing into a real challenger.
But it’s not Google that stands to lose the most here. While Graph Search will lead to an erosion of Google’s market share, it won’t be enough to topple the market leader entirely. And because Graph Search isn’t a search engine, the two services won’t be in direct competition.
Unlike a few other sites.
The Losers – Comparison and Review Sites
Hands up who’s ever used TripAdvisor, Yelp or another review aggregator? All of you? Thought so.
If you’ve used one of these sites, you’ll know that you spend half your time finding context for the reviews posted. Is someone giving a 3* B&B rave reviews because it’s great, or because they’ve never stayed anywhere but a motorway Travelodge? Is this person posting negative reviews for everywhere apart from the one restaurant you think they work for?
You have to take every comment with a pinch of salt because you don’t know the reviewer. So when Facebook lets you search for restaurants recommended by people who you trust, you’re going to choose Graph Search over Yelp every time.
All of which means that it’s not Google who needs to worry. Because while Bing will eat into their market share, and Graph Search will steal attention away from Google Places, the search giant has enough strings to its bow to weather the storm and fight back.
But we don’t hold out much hope for TripAdvisor.
Of course, we won’t know for sure until Graph Search is up and running – but we think our speculation is pretty well founded. But we’d like to hear your reviews. So please, give us your predictions in the comments section below.
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