Important Facebook Graph Search Developments


It is difficult to ignore the potential of Facebook when it comes to sourcing and recruiting given that it has 1.38B monthly active users and 890M daily active users.

When Graph Search was introduced back in 2013, it was an amazingly powerful people sourcing tool.  However, recent changes have somewhat reduced its efficacy. While some people might think that Facebook’s Graph Search is effectively dead, it is still very much alive. In fact, Graph Search is now live on mobile (more on that in a bit).

Although it’s not what it used to be, Graph Search still allows you to write some very effective natural language queries to retrieve Facebook profiles, as you can search by title, company, location, languages, etc., and Graph Search is still a ridiculously powerful gender diversity sourcing tool (where legal, of course).

Here’s a search for female software engineers who work for Google, live near New York and speak French.

Facebook Graph Search 2015 Diversity Google Software Engineers Near New York who speak French

That’s some good stuff right there!

While people searches like that will satisfy the average user, hardcore sourcers might lament the loss of the ability to create the more advanced and inclusive queries they used to in the past, and the extensive search refinements associated with Graph Search on the right rail are now gone, with trending posts now taking up that screen real estate.

Once you try to go much beyond searches like the one above, Facebook will humbly apologize for not being able to find any results for your search.

Full-Powered Facebook Graph Search Lives!

If you miss the ability to construct searches the way you once could with Graph Search, you should rejoice, because the good doctors Frankenstein, Balazs Paroczay & Shane McCusker, have reincarnated the old Graph Search.

As far back as 2013, the ever perspicacious Balazs paid close attention to the URL’s when experimenting with Graph Search and he was able to piece together commands and utilize specific ID’s that allow you to construct Facebook Graph Search queries via custom URL’s and essentially search for just about any combination of information on Facebook profiles that you could possibly imagine.

For example, check out this search:

If you paid attention to the URL of my example Graph Search for female software engineers who work for Google, live near New York and speak French, you would have noticed that the URL looks completely different in structure, which is indicative of the changes in Graph Search.

Semantic Search in Graph Search

The new Graph Search URLs looks like basic keyword search, but some level of semantic search appears to be happening, because when you search for people who have worked for a specific company you can see from the search results that Facebook’s Graph Search seems to “know” that “worked for” means “former.” Graph Search also “knows” what “live near” means, as evidenced by the non-New York (New Jersey) results.

accountants who have worked for kpmg who live near new york

Facebook Graph Search Former KPMG Accountant Near New York

You can see that a false positive result slipped in – Matthew currently works at KPMG, so the “new” Graph Search is definitely not as precise as using “old” Graph Search URL syntax, ID’s, etc.

Interestingly, simply changing the search to look for current employees of KPMG does change the results, so Graph Search does “see” a definitely between “work for” and “worked for.”

accountants who work for kpmg who live near new york

Facebook Graph Search Accountants Current KPMG New York

Further experimentation with Graph Search reveals more clues to semantic search.

For example, searching for “women” in a Graph Search query returns women, yet the gender identifier/text on profiles is actually “female,”  searches for “software engineer” return results of “programmer,” “coder,” etc.

Facebook Graph Search Reincarnated

Shane McCusker leveraged Balazs’s Graph Search URL work and packaged it up into a simple search interface that allows you to harness the power of “old style” Graph Search. While it’s not a single search field, it makes it ridiculously simple to create Facebook Graph Searches without having to hack together long URL-level queries from scratch.

Shane McCusker Facebook Graph Search

Shane’s search interface allows you to easily and automatically create “old style” Graph Searches, selecting from name, current job (employer or title), past jobs (employers or titles), current or former location, languages spoken, education, places visited, and likes.

Here is the URL created from the above search:

Here are the top results of the above search:

Facebook Graph Search via Shane McCusker

You can notice that “old style” Graph Search via URL can be more precise and inclusive. For example – notice Jack who claims to currently work at YouTube (Google owned) concurrently with Mannequin. On the other hand, I did notice a result sneak in from Buffalo, NY.

Facebook Mobile Graph Search

Did you know Graph Search went live for iOS devices back in December?

You can easily craft some pretty powerful natural language searches simply by speaking them directly into the search field, which I did in the case below.

How nice would it be to be able to speak ALL of your searches as easily into any site in natural language and actually get the results you want? A man can dream…

Facebook Graph Search Mobile 2

The default search is for posts – so be sure to click next to the search bar and select “People” to get your people search results. In addition to searching for posts and people, you can also search for photos, pages, places, groups, apps and events.

Facebook Graph Search Mobile 3

Voila! Review your results:

Facebook Graph Search Mobile 1

Happy hunting!