Recently, Facebook has become synonymous with online social interactions. With 1.55 billion monthly active users, it’s undoubtedly the dominant social media platform that reels in millions of monthly advertising revenue.
A 2014 Shareaholic Study reveals Facebook drives 25% of all social referral traffic online compared to just 0.88% for Twitter, making it the juggernaut of referral traffic.
As it continues to branch out and reach more audience, would it be so far-fetched to say this social media site is trying to compete with the online behemoth known as Google?
Is Facebook trying to become an actual search engine?
Search with Friends’ Posts
In 2014, Facebook enabled search within friends’ posts.
The idea was first introduced in 2013, when Facebook announced that users would be able to search for public posts from users they didn’t follow.
The update was never rolled out for public consumption. Facebook said during testing, they found out that people were more interested in posts from friends and pages they Liked, meaning users cared more about who’s posting than what’s being posted.
That’s what the update focused on: search within posts of friends and Liked Pages.
Search Within Public Posts
In October 2015, Facebook added the ability to search within public posts, enhancing its utility as a source of real-time information.
In an article announcing the update, Facebook VP of Search Tom Stocky said the company sees “over 1.5 billion searches per day and over 2 trillion posts in our index.”
This update was said to deliver a number of improvements, including:
Search results with public posts and posts from friends
Typing your query, you’ll see the latest, most relevant public posts, as well as posts from your friends. Facebook results are filtered well enough to sift through 2 trillion posts, enabling you to understand popular opinions about a hot topic.
More personalized and more timely search suggestions
The moment you tap into the search box and start typing, Facebook will provide personalized and timely search suggestions. They will also highlight real-time events and help you stay informed on what’s happening.
The ability to search public conversations
You can easily dive into interesting public discussions anchored to links, keeping you informed and connected with just one tap.
The Add-a-Link Button
The problem with the Search tool is that it was limited only to Facebook posts.
In 2015, Facebook launched a mobile feature called “add a link”. When making a new status, you can click the “add a link” button, browse the web for the link you’re looking for, and then easily embed the link within the post.
This significant improvement in web-search functionality is that it’s not integrated from any other existing search engine, like Facebook originally planned to. This was totally Facebook’s independent search function, developed by Facebook alone.
So how does it work? Just type in a query and Facebook will show a list of matching links you may want to share, let you peek the content of those sites, and allow you to tap one to add to your status.
Results are said to be arranged according to what you’re most likely to share, highlighting sites that have recently been posted by many users. The clear advantage lies in the convenience of not having to open another browser and keeping the users throughout the whole experience.
The Add a Link feature cuts out the middle man in the process – the search engines. If it takes off, it may not only benefit the users, but publishers and marketers to focus more on getting their stories featured.
What’s In Store for Facebook Search
Facebook search may be narrow and young now, but it’s confident about the future. In his Q4 2013 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Facebook will take on Google for dominance of search. With a bigger index of data and an artificial intelligence unit, Facebook’s efforts of becoming a solid search engine could well lead to something bigger than any search engine ever was.
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