A number of articles and blogs have been written about the potential which Facebook has to overcome the powerhouse that is Google, to become the favoured means of finding content online. In the past, I've been rather skeptical about what could be for the social media giant, after all, is it likely that people will really choose to use Facebook Search instead of Googling something?
Google has dominated the search environment for so long now, that the term 'Googling' has become interchangeable with 'search'. We've never had it so good as now - if we need to know the answer to a question, we no-longer have to ask others, find out books and search through page after page - we just type our query into Google and 'boom', the answer appears in front of us.
But don't rule Facebook out...
I'm far from saying that Facebook Search isn't capable of this kind of service. We know that Facebook has teamed up with Microsoft, so that Bing can power it's search facility. This means that Facebook has a more than capable search engine behind it, which can deliver quick and accurate results. The problem, at least as I see it, is that people are comfortable with using Facebook as a social media tool, and Google as a search engine. It's going to take a heck of a push from Facebook, to get their users to switch from using the likes of Google, to using it's own search facility.
But if ever there was an organisation ideally placed to attack Google's search capability, it's Facebook.
What's Facebook got in it's locker?
With over half a billion people already members of Facebook, the company has a huge and captive audience to market to when they are ready to drive home it's search offering. Facebook is already looking to get people to save it's website as their home-page, so a little promotion of the search box - and maybe a slight resize/reposition of that box - could go a long way.
A revolutionary search engine?
Of course, there's no guarantee that Facebook will continue to use Microsoft Bing to power it's search offering. It would be very interesting to see a complete Facebook-take on the concept of a search engine. I say 'interesting' because it's likely that it would work in a very different way to the existing facilities such as Google, Bing and Yahoo.
Facebook is all over the web, with various integration techniques being used on many websites across the globe. Whether a simple 'like' button is added to a site, or a more comprehensive approach is taken by a webmaster, Facebook is retrieving information about how useful visitors find a site, and how that website fits into the social environment. Plotting these findings into a list of results, against a search query, would certainly make an interesting read and has the potential to show significant variance when compared with Google results for example. Ultimately, Facebook has the ability to consider the value a human considers a site to have, rather than basing the entire value of a website on how a site performs against an algorithm (as in the case of Google).
Should Google be worried by Facebook?
It is likely that Google has some concerns over the progress made by Facebook. What is clear is that Facebook is much closer and more capable of conquering a portion of the search market, than Google is of successfully venturing into the social environment. We shall have to see how well 'Google Me', the company's social layer, is received when it is launched early-2011.
Whatever happens, it looks as though there's going to be a mighty battle between Google and Facebook in the very near future.