Thursday, February 21, 2013

Facebook Graph Search is Useless

A few months ago Facebook held a press conference. Rumours were that they were introducing a better search function for their site. Count me as really excited at the prospect of having a better search on the Facebook page.

As a person helping businesses set up pages I struggle to help my clients find other pages to follow that are interesting, relevant, and sharing good content. We try to find local pages by searching the name of the city, with okay results, but not great. Then we search the subject of some pages they may want to follow, with not great results, but with patience and time we find some to follow.

Wouldn't a better search feature be great for me and my clients so we can build up a great home feed and meet other local and complimentary businesses?

On the other side, as a person helping businesses set up pages I struggle to help my clients get found. Until they reach the magical number of 30 fans they can't change their unique URL to make it easier to tell people how to follow them. And I often work with small organizations of two to five staff. Even if they all like it, and ask their family to, it sometimes takes some time to get there. And once they've reached the number and have their unique URL, it's still a challenge to get people to connect with their page. They rely on shares and search.

So, I have clients who use that search bar to search their own business name and see if they show up in the first couple of automatic links. But they don't. And the average Facebook user doesn't realize there is a link at the bottom of the list that reads "See More Results" and they may find what they are looking for there. Every one of my clients wants to be the first automatically suggested result.

Wouldn't a better search feature be great for me and my clients and the average Facebook user to get the results they want right there at their fingertips?

So, Facebook introduced Graph Search, promising a more robust search feature. A way to connect better with other Facebook users and find out what your friends like. Sounds great until you start to look at it.

Graph search will help you find stuff your friends like, so if you want to find Facebook pages about video gaming or parenting, or your city the search results give very limited results. So then you need to change your search terms to fine tune what you are looking for. And then you still only get a handful of answers and none that you are looking for.

I recently wanted to check in with a friend who is a children's musician and see what he's been doing. I've worked with Music with Brian, performed shows with him, liked and commented on his page. But when I typed "music with brian" in the search bar (since that is the fastest way to get to a Facebook page or profile) I got results that sucked!

Brian's personal Facebook profile showed up at least, but nothing remotely like his page. So I clicked "See More" and the results became even more ridiculous.

Only when I hovered my mouse over the list did I notice there was a scroll bar. I scrolled through the option of finding Music liked by Brian's I had never met or even heard of, let alone friended on Facebook. It wasn't until the second to last item on the list (which is to give up on Facebook and go the Bing search page) that the official Music With Brian page showed up.

The worst part is that now that I've switched to Graph Search, I can't go back to the regular old, less sucky version of search.

I rarely complain about changes to Facebook, but this one has really created a challenge for me and I'm not sure how to overcome it.

1 comment:

  1. Usually only like a person's page when I get that invitation from them to do so. It really is a bugger.

    Good ol' bait-and-switch there, Facebook!