The battleground between Google and Facebook just came a little bit clearer with Facebook’s much-anticipated announcement of social graph search. As Google and Facebook approach social search from two different sides, it still isn’t clear if there needs to be a single winner and if so who that might be.
Since its launch back in June 2011, Google has been quietly stitching their wide suite of products together, integrating them into a single ecosystem to the point where Google+ is Google to all purposes. And although it has been used mainly by early adopters and Google employees, the relentless development based on the power of search and Google’s overarching vision means it is here to stay.
This is what Google is doing with its Search All Your World product; if you search the web while logged into Google+, friends’ activity gets rated higher than generic results. With both sites you can now visit a restaurant that someone you know has recommended and feel more confident that it will meet your expectations.
Across the wider web, Google launches smaller product enhancements – friends’ search results, authorship. local business pages, communities – all hooks to get you into a seamless personalised web, driven by your Google+ profile.
Within Facebook, searches will now become more personalised and more powerful because returns will be prioritised on how much weight your friends give to something – again rating your friends’ activity higher in search results, driven by their and your previous Facebook activity.
To avoid this becoming a stale and closing circle, both Facebook and Google+ have also touted their potential to connect strangers around common interests – using the searches to extend your network and enhance your online experiences.
This extreme integration while maintaining users’ trust will be the biggest challenge to both approaches – although it really seems to be the same approach from different directions. The battleground between Google and Facebook may be a shared hunting ground instead. Privacy concerns will continue to be a red flag in both cases – are you disciplined enough and technologically aware enough to maintain some privacy in your settings as this activity becomes normalised?
No doubt both Google and Facebook are intent on enriching our online experiences, along with providing lots of new opportunity for businesses to step in and explore/exploit this rich data, but if there needs to be a single winner it will surely be the system that can inspire most trust in their users?
What do you think about these issues? Will Facebook’s approach inspire more loyalty or annoy people with oversharing and inaccurate results? Does Google’s approach mean that your search results are too narrow and prevent you from trying anything new? I would love to discuss your views in the comments below.