Can Facebook’s Graph Search Learn from E-commerce?

February 4, 2013 Terry

There’s been a lot of talk the past couple of week’s about Facebook’s new Graph Search which most think is long overdue. While Graph Search – currently still in limited beta – has an interesting and perhaps compelling approach to search, we in the e-commerce search sphere got the end-user experience down a long time ago. You can even say that e-commerce search has been at the forefront of many of today’s search “revolutions” and is a key driver in developing trends around how people search the web.

In fact, a social-oriented search experience already exists on many e-commerce sites, where visitors can filter search results by user reviews to find products that are most highly rated by previous purchasers. SLI also applies this ‘wisdom of crowds’ approach to our own search by delivering results based on items that get clicked on the most for each keyword. Many sites also allow visitors to filter results by the number of Facebook “likes” or Pinterest “pins.” And when integrated with either of these sites, visitors can even see what items their social connections have given the thumbs-up to.

While Facebook users may start to flock to Graph Search to find photos, restaurants, music and other cultural events – and see what their friends have been posting on a given topic – Facebook can still enhance the experience quite a bit by adding features that are prevalent on many e-commerce sites.

The ability to refine searches by attributes like color (red dress or blue shirt), sizes, price, location, etc. is also critical. If a search returns hundreds or thousands of results (which would likely be the case with a Facebook search), people want mechanisms to narrow down those results and get closer to what they want. Mouse-over pop-ups, which provide all the detail of a specific result when the user rolls their cursor over the image, is also a great way to streamline the experience, as are Quick View Windows. 

The team here are all very excited to see Facebook taking search to the next level. It validates the importance of good search, no matter what type of site, and also helps people experience search in a new and innovative way. As search continues to evolve and advance in new directions, it’s intriguing to see how different types of search – web search, e-commerce search, social search – can all borrow from each other.

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