Tuesday, January 15, 2013
Facebook and the $100 billion loan to small businesses
Facebook have just launched their Graph Search system. According to Mark Zuckerberg, this is the 'Third Pillar' in the Facebook Graph Platform. It will be based on 'Likes' and it will return results and this is different from Google, which is based on 'Links,' according to transcripts based on live blogging during the launch at their HQ today.
Dissecting the obvious straight line thinking
There will be lots and lots of straight line comparisons. Because they mentioned Search, there will be lots of immediate comparisons to Web Search and Search engines. Specifically Google and Bing! (yawn). This will range from "not yet competitive" to "massive challenger to Google" to "at last, SocialSearch is here and SEO is dead."
Stepping away from the hype
Essentially, searching for things within your own network isn't true. LinkedIn do a great job. Twitter do a reasonable job. All three do awful jobs of searching across their databases. I'm not being unfair - most search functions are pretty basic. Google makes a very, very complicated tough job look easy. And what Facebook announced is a search based on their network, content and structure. This isn't web search.
No need for crystal balls
You can already measure how big Facebook Web Search is: Bing is directly connected to the search bar. Both Facebook search and Bing search are so truly awful that, despite Facebook's 1 billion users, Bing has less than 10% of the global search market, which we estimate to be about 3 billion people. That's according to search impressions. Actual traffic volume would suggest Bing is less than 3%.
Facebook fixed a bug or Facebook created a problem
Having a working search system that extends over and above keyword matching is one thing. But there's a problem. Facebook made a big loss for many years. Some nice guys in some stylish suits who live in some expensive offices gave them some cash. Lots of it. And then Facebook paid them back by withdrawing a huge loan that they took out from Wall street on behalf of Small, Medium and Large businesses everywhere. They took a bet that they could connect you with a billion people and it would simplify your advertising costs by putting all of your spend in one place...
Social Graph Search is based on Connections
Ah, clever Facebook - because they're not connecting you with 1,000 million people at all. Because that would be stupid. Instead the only people who can find you are the people already connected to you. That means you'll have to continue paying for likes. And now you be sure that that got even more expensive.
Facebook are doing a terrible job at handling spam. We get messages like this monthly and Facebook doesn't delete the likes or the accounts that sell them. This is why we think Google has been so slow to build in Social Signals. That and what's the point of connecting to content you're already connected to?
There isn't any. Google is about finding new content. 18% of searches performed every day are brand new. Never before used. Here's an example: "Prince Harry Naked in Las Vegas" - before 2012, I bet you this was never ever searched for before.
Spam, keyword stuffing, fake likes, fake pages, duplicate pages will be on the up
Facebook promised free marketing and the bailiff is here to collect. That's a big loan and somebody has to pay up. Forgive me for being cynical, but I just am. Meanwhile, seoMoz are still in the quest for "Great Content." Well, anything that's emotional - because obviously that equates to great.
Is anything free anymore?
Every website in the world is indexed, catalogued and returned fair and square in Google. Businesses are listed by location, for free via Google Places (Google Local). Google+ is also free. So is YouTube. Go there - its free. Also, if you do decide to go for advertising - the conversion rates are epic.