Facebook's Mark ZuckerbergIn a recent TechCrunch event, Mark Zuckerberg discussed positioning Facebook as a potential search engine. He noted they are processing 1 billion queries a day and currently have a team working on a search engine feature.

 

Zuckerberg believes Facebook is uniquely positioned to answer questions people have, such as “What restaurants do my friends like,” and return a set of answers rather than a list of traditional search results.

 

While the exact features and functionality of this tool are not known, we can assume that it will rely heavily on social endorsements such as post or page “likes” and similar social touches. This is similar to Google’s G+ efforts in that personalized search engine results are served with heavy emphasis on people in your circles who +1’d a post, website, etc.

 

Google also claims to manage over 1 billion searches per day with the goal of organizing the web to make it more useful. What’s the difference? While Google is organizing the world’s information, it’s unlikely that any Facebook search application will branch out that far, but rather stay within the data-rich compound of Facebook.

 

And what a delight for Facebook advertisers this will be! Imagine being able to target women aged 24-32 who liked your page and recently searched for fashion magazines or celebrity gossip. Behold the male aged 35-42 who likes the Green Bay Packers and searched for sports bar happy hours! In theory, using search keywords as a targeting method for ads served on Facebook will offer more granular targeting with insight into real-time searches. Searches would represent a user expressing interest at that moment, more immediate than information stored in profiles.

 

As the Facebook social media scientists converge to build a better search engine, relatively little has changed for the users in moving towards this goal.

 

One clue is the recent Facebook announcement that they are saving your searches in your Activity Log. I was able to find my personal activity, including personal search queries on Facebook, dating back to 2008. Think about that for a second. Four years of data on my activity on Facebook! It will be interesting to see how recency plays a part in any future ad targeting. Clearly the most recent the activity, the more valuable it would be — and the more a marketer’s dream.

 

Facebook activity log

In Facebook, users post a wealth of information about themselves, from their age and sex to their interests, and they even check in and tell everyone exactly where they are at any given moment. In Zuckerberg’s vision, users will be able to get their questions answered as well from search results pulled from the personal and company pages within the Facebook walls.

 

The possibilities overfloweth.

 

Lisa Raehsler

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Lisa Raehsler is founder and principal strategist at Minnesota-based online advertising agency Big Click Co.