What Facebook’s Graph Search means for individuals, business and developers

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Facebook launched its latest product, a ‘Search Engine’ at a function in California, USA, earlier this week. The facility, titled ‘Graph Search’, is rather more of a Search Engine but only for content resident on the Social Networking site and its possible functionalities were explained in an article on this platform yesterday.

The big question on everyone’s lips is: What does this mean to me as an individual and for businesses? And it is this question I will try to answer, and hopefully with your assistance we can make this thing work for Zimbabweans and our businesses. (What if Facebook does not support searches related to Zimbabwe as it says we are under sanctions?)

Graph Search for the individual

For individuals, the first thing to keep in mind is that the kind of search the tool will allow is more personal. This is because of the wealth of information that we volunteer to Mark Zuckerberg, including our likes, our friends and their personal information and more importantly, our own personal information.

So when our friends and businesses search using Graph Search, it is our likes and dislikes and personal information that the tool will use for their results. (Including that photo when you were soaked)

Personal information to protect

All our status updates over the years, all the photos, likes and all other information like our hometowns, places we have visited, companies we worked for is now part of a structured database of more than 1 billion Facebook users.

Without setting up a few security and privacy settings, all your ‘dirty linen’ will be available from the searches, therefore, there are a few things you need (or might need, depending on how ‘private’ you are) to protect before Graph Search is rolled out for everyone, and these are mainly:

  1. Limit who can search for you by barring friends of friends from seeking you.
  2. Go through your timeline to make sure all your posts, photos (including those you are tagged in) your likes and the places you checked in draw the picture that you want to portray online.
  3. Limit the viewership of your future posts to only friends and not the public.

So, let us mind our Ps more than the Qs, not Pints (hard to come by in Zim) more than Quarts, but our Photos, Places and People.

Graph Search for businesses

Let me hasten to say, but the truth is Graph Search is all ABOUT the individuals, but FOR businesses, and while there is no financial benefit attached to the tool currently for Mark Z and Friends, very soon we shall be seeing things like sponsored results (read sponsored discovery) leading the way.

This useful new search opens new doors and search opportunities to meet a variety of needs, whether it be a recruiter searching for the right employee to fit a job, a marketer searching for their target audience or a friend looking for a suggestion for a restaurant.

This makes it increasingly important for Zimbabwean companies to have a meaningful Facebook presence, failure to do so will only send potential clients to your competitors.

Zimbabwe businesses will need more than just Facebook presence, but professionally optimized presence for increased visibility, and hence improved business. Imagine someone making any of the following searches and you are either absent from Facebook or your presence is not optimized:

  • Restaurants in Bulawayo
  • Chinese restaurants liked by my friends from MSU
  • Hotels in Kariba checked in by my friends and friends of friends.
  • Bars in Harare liked by Power FM DJs
  • Movies watched by Zimbabwean Marketers

In a nutshell, Graph Search on Facebook, coupled with a well executed and optimized Facebook presence by your company, has the capacity to generate many leads that are ready to do business with your entity.

Remember, social media thrives on the fact that people would rather buy/do business after being recommended by a friend, the same way I would buy AIM toothpaste if a friend says it’s OK, compared to buying after a ZTV advert (if they still exist). Imagine looking for a good local restaurant and discovering 50 of my 550 friends recommend your nice place, how can I run away from that?

For the developers

This forum recently discussed about developing real applications, so when Facebook finally decides to roll out the Graph Search API, let us be ready be part of a new sub-industry as application and advert product developers creating all manner of tools to surface the most hyper-targeted content and results.

For us online marketers, I think this is the tool we have been waiting for, and its here.

This guest post was authored by Tawanda V. Mashava, a Senior Consultant with Cellfun Systems. Cellfun is a local Online Marketing Consultancy company. Mashava is a lover of Dogs, Arsenal and Whiskey. You can follow him on Twitter, @tawandamashava and contact him on tawanda@cellfunsystems.com.



  1. Sam Takunda

    It hasn’t excited users and investors but there definitely is an opportunity for a service that adds value. “Facebook plus your world” anyone?

    1. Tawanda Victor Mashava

      The moment it goes public you will see the stocks of FB rising again, watch this space!

      1. Dogstar

        After having read and looked many articles on this feature, i can only say one thing – Government’s source of information on their citizens and their political affiliations has just become available instantly…

        On another note, FB Search is not going to work at all. Ok, from my FB account, almost 80% of my friends lie about them selves. DOB, work, home, location, jobs, their likes, names, their friends, etc. So how this will translate into real business, I don’t know. all the data the system gets it’s false. Searching for people who live in Harare will return false results based on profiles with false information. One of my friend’s profile says he lives in Canada but he is located in Mutare. And he works at MacDonalds, yet he works at the local supermarket in that town…you get the picture?

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