The recent announcement that Facebook is dropping Bing had some guessing that it might presage FB launching their own web search product. And you can kind of see who it might play out. On one hand you have Zuckerburg quoted as saying that his engineers ‘constantly remind him that FB represents the largest searchable corpus on the internet’. Is this his way of saying, ‘surely it’s enough that we enable you to search FB’. (And if many users’ experience of the web is in fact within FB, do they want to search beyond it?) and strategically ‘do we want to lose page impressions to the wider web’?
But then on the other hand, you’ve got an audience of a Billion and surely FB wants those web search ad dollars…is it conceivable / rational from either a users’ POV or from FB’s to take on Google in search?
So is it simply a matter of working out what’s worth more: revenue from internal page impressions (if they can keep users inside the FB eco-system, to the extent that that is possible) or the revenue from web search ad revenue?
But as Mat, my sage advisor reminded me, Facebook only has two objectives; Improving it’s ads product so that users click on more ads or in improving its user experience so that users go there more frequently (and therefor click on more ads…). Creating a web search product would put them in direct competition with one of the smartest media companies in the world in one of the most difficult areas of marketing. It’s just bound to end in tears.
In other Facebook search news however is something that brands should pay attention to. Announced last week, Facebook is improving their Graph search to now include keywords. As a result brands need to think through what keywords that are most likely to be associated with and how to optimise for that so that their content, or posts from their fans are found through Graph search. Given the plummeting reach of organic posts the promise of organic search results in Facebook should be of real interest to brands. Although as Matt Muir has pointed out, “this now gives brands a whole other incentive to get their ‘fans’ to write status updates framed in certain SEO-friendly ways – expect to see a slew of competitions rewarding people for saying things like ‘Nandos is the BEST RESTAURANT in CLAPHAM’ or similar-such guff.” No. Don’t go and tell your social team to do that. Just. Don’t.