The new Graph Search by Facebook is intended to transform the social media giant into a massive search engine. That is great news for Facebook and people who are invested in the company, but it could be a killer for other Internet companies in the social interaction space.
The big challenge for those firms is that the Graph Search will allow users to tap into the social lives and preferences of those who live near them. Those are the opinions that people most care about. So it will give Facebook an advantage in recommending things, from where to find a good spot to eat downtown to where to buy a used recliner.
This is a good reminder that building an Internet business on top of Facebook means that you have to balance between the massive distribution channels of Facebook, and your company’s independence.
Some of the company types that could start to feel the pinch of Graph Search include:
#1 Job Recruiters
Graph search could be used to find new job hires, so this could put the squeeze on Linkedin, Monster and Careerbuilder.
#2 Dating Sites
Match.com costs money. Why pay when you can do a search for your perfect mate for free on Facebook?
#3 Recommendation Sites
Yelp and Tripadvisor and the like are popular because people like to know the top spots to eat, drink, shop and stay. You tend to wonder if the reviews on those sites are legitimate though. You won’t have to worry about that on Graph Search. You can always email your friend on Facebook to ask about their review.
#4 Rental and Sale Sites
Craigslist has thrived, but you are going on faith that the person on the other side of the transaction is not going to try to rip you off or do something worse. If you are able to buy a TV through Graph Search, you are more likely to be able to feel safer that you are going to get a reasonable deal and that you are not going to be mugged in the process. You tend to trust people you ‘know’ better than total strangers on sites such as Craigslist.
#5 Meet Up Sites
If you are looking for people with common interests, such as people who like to bike, run or read books, Graph Search could be a big help for you. Facebook could be used to search their areas for activities and people like them. This could help to bring down sites such as Meetup.
Graph Search is still in its early stages, but there is little doubt that when it comes out, many other Internet businesses could feel the pinch as Facebook starts to grab their customers. And with all of the other changes Facebook has been making lately, who knows what other types of new business ventures are on their minds?