Facebook One Step Closer To Real Social Search?

Today, Facebook is starting to roll out a new feature in their search bar that incorporates more results relevant to your network’s connections. Engineer Wayne Kao wrote on Facebook’s blog today that the site will be serving up more search results, and to do so, they’ll leverage your social graph. The aim is to surface more information while maintaining relevance.

When you use the search bar from your profile, you’ll still get a dropdown list showing your friends and any Facebook Pages that you are a member/ fan of. However, now you’ll also automatically see in that list Pages that friends are members/ fans of, as well as connections of friends and other “globally relevant results.”

For example, if you type a partial term and it matches a Group that one of your friends is in, that Group will appear in the search results dropdown list. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, claims Kao’s post, you can use the “See More Results for xxxx” link at the bottom of the dropdown list, to get a search page where you can refine your search.

Facebook social search features

Note that they are rolling out this feature over a few days, so you may not see the ability yet from your Facebook profile. I don’t see yet, so I haven’t tested it, but in theory, it’s a nice step towards the type of true social search engine that AllFacebook Editor Nick O’Neill has talked about previously.

From what I know of Facebook, they seem to have an agile approach to development, rolling out many new code changes on a very regular, possibly daily basis. I equate to this to a Kaizen approach of incremental improvements. This suggests to me that they’ll keep rolling out additional social search features as they’re ready, rather than in one big update. This is partially because there are significant complexities to fully implementing a social search engine. If you’re interested in hints of what’s probably coming — relevance indicators, social context, global popularity — have a look at Akhil Wabe’s post, Intro to Facebook Search, published today to Facebook’s Engineering notes.