As Facebook gained more and more users, it became clear that the standard search feature would not be enough. Originally, Facebook Search allowed you to search only for people, Groups, or Pages based on name only. Any of the information that was entered in status updates, for example, was not searchable. This was the largest edge that Twitter had over Facebook.
With Twitter Search (http://search.twitter.com), users can search the conversations taking place on the network in real time. Users can grab customized RSS feeds based on the search criteria, and then those can be transferred into a feed reader such as Google Reader (www.google.com/reader). For a long time, Facebook took criticism because it didn’t have a more robust search engine, especially because Facebook has hundreds of millions of users compared to tens of millions using Twitter.
In June 2009, Facebook announced that it was experimenting with an enhanced search feature (see Figure 1.21) to help users mine through the tons of information that pumps into the platform daily. Approximately two months later, Facebook released the new search feature. In 2010, Facebook served results for 500 million search queries per day, and that number continues to grow.
Figure 1.21 The search feature used to search for mentions of Cowboys and Aliens among my friends and pages. You can also search everyone on Facebook or posts in Groups you belong to.
The search engine optimization (SEO) industry is a $19 billion dollar industry in 2011, and the hardcore folks who write the SEO blogs and speak at SEO conferences (which include me, Brian) have begun to talk seriously about optimizing for Facebook Search. This area will only continue to grow.
A few other websites can help you search Facebook. The two most interesting to me are Greplin and OpenBook. Greplin (greplin.com) does a great job of being your personal, private social search utility after you give it access to your social streams (see Figure 1.22). Brian uses it to search his Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all at one time. OpenBook was originally created to show how few people realized their status updates were public. It also can be useful for brand research.
Figure 1.22 After you join Greplin and give it access, it enables you to search all your social profiles and friends.