The Ultimate Guide to Using Facebook Graph Search

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Prior to graph search, performing a complex, context-sensitive and advanced search on Facebook was not possible. But, things have changed and now you can find those entities within this large social ecosystem that were almost invisible to you previously. Graph search is extremely flexible and user-friendly giving you the ability to find the interesting stuff that's highly relevant and useful for you. The power of graph search can be leveraged in different ways. You must be familiar with all the available options and features to find needles in the haystack. Whether you're an individual, internet marketer, blogger, non-profit organization or a company, graph search has the ability to provide you with all the required results needed to help your cause. Let's see how we can harness the power of Facebook graph search.

Getting Familiar with the Common Features

Before we move on to the real life examples of flexible searches made through graph search, let's get familiar with all the common options available for general users.

Result Set Formats
First, we'll take a look at the result set formats available within graph search. These result formats are broadly divided into two different types as shown below.

Facebook graph search result format - Grid and List view
  • List format - This format is ideal for viewing result set on smaller monitors. You get the results in card format which are loaded continuously as you scroll down. Users with slower internet connections will also find this result format much better than the grid format as the latter format consumes more bandwidth.
  • Grid format - Facebook users with wide screen monitors must switch to this view as it packs more data in the available space. Whenever you hover your mouse on a result set entry, the associated information and options pops out like a slider. It's my preferred format on my laptop.
Search Within Result Set Entry
For each profile included in the result set, you also get an option to search within the profile viz., interests, friends' list, photos and much more. And all this can be done without any need to leave the result set.

Profile search option in Facebook graph search

This not only speeds up the entire process but also eases your information searching exercise. It's ideal for shortlisting profiles from the entire result set. You can easily open profile-specific result sets in a new tab through this integrated search feature.

Refine Your Search through Options/Parameter Box
Although, graph search is quite flexible and adjusts your typed query in the correct format to display the relevant results, you can still use its powerful collapsible and expandable parameter box to supply custom options for you query.

Facebook graph search custom search parameter box

The 'See More' link at the bottom of the box expands it to show tons of other parameters that can be supplied to come up with a more complex and relevant query. While using this box, apart from supplying the default parameters, you can also create custom parameter values for each of the available options.

For example, the 'Age Range' parameter is populated with few default entries that can be quickly selected to save your time. But, you can also supply a custom age range to this parameter to suit your needs. This box should be used to strengthen and optimize your existing query.

Extend Your Search Easily
It's not just the default search result that matters while finding information through graph search, but the supplementary result sets can broaden your search and can easily help you find the exact information you're looking for. That's where 'Extend This Search' section comes handy.

Extended results sets for Facebook graph search

Whenever you perform a search, this section automatically populates with associated search links to provide more useful insights about the profiles in your current search result set. This helps you quickly expand your search without any need to type queries again and again.

It's like a shortcut to peek into people's activities, likes, associations and several other kinds of information. I normally use it to find groups and pages liked by the profiles in the result set. So these were some of the prominent features of graph search. Now let's move on the real part.

Taming Facebook Graph Search

This powerful feature is as effective as your ability to craft the right kind of queries needed to pull the required information. Instead of focusing on the syntax and semantics of the query structure, we'll pay all our attention on the practical examples presented here. That way, you'll quickly learn about formatting the queries in a correct way.

We'll take all types of queries including some fun and unusual searches to let you know the flexibility of the graph search. So let's get started.

Example #1: Recruitment agency searching for potential candidates.

Facebook graph search for HTML and CSS professionals

The graph search result shown above is an example of finding profiles who're interested in a particular technical skill. Companies and recruitment agencies can further refine this search to filter the most relevant profiles that match with their needs. Here are some of the common things that you can learn from the above example.
  • You can use and operator to combine multiple parameters for a single attribute.
  • You can easily filter out residents (not home town or visited) of a particular city.
  • All the parameters supplied to the graph search algorithm are always in bright white color.

Example #2: Finding customers to connect, network and promote your products.

Finding customers through Facebook graph search

This is yet another simple example for finding potential customers for your products and services. Businesses having a Facebook page can easily extend this search to find real prospects on Facebook. Here are some more things to note in this search.
  • You can not only search for residents of a particular city but can also segregate them on the basis of their gender.
  • To avoid any confusion or irrelevant results, you must provide the country name of the city as well whose name is used by other cities in different parts of the globe.

Example #3: Find your old colleagues.

Find old colleagues through Facebook graph search

Yes, you can use this powerful search feature to find your old colleagues too. In this example, you'll find some more interesting query creating semantics.
  • You can easily provide time frames to graph search algorithm to pick the relevant results.
  • You can even exclude a time slice using the before and after operators.
  • You can also provide multiple time frames in a single query.

Example #4: Find best restaurants in your city serving your favorite recipes.

Find best restaurants in your city through Facebook graph search

Foodies will love this example as it gives them an easy way to find the best eating places within their city. You can also find best tourist attractions in a particular city through a similar query. Here are some of the things to notice in this query.
  • Graph search is just not limited to profiles. You can use it to find geographical locations too.
  • Search queries like these are very helpful for tourists and strangers visiting an alien city.

Example #5: Find a date in your city.

Find a date through Facebook graph search

I'm sure lots of readers are going to initiate such kind of queries to find a date in their cities. Make no mistake about it; Facebook's graph search is going to give several online dating sites a run for their money. What you can learn from this example?
  • It's not just about people, places and their interests; graph search also lets you build relationships.
  • You can literally get tons of dating options through graph search.

This is just a tip of the iceberg shown in these examples. You can literally find almost anything through it provided you experiment with search queries and learn the syntax.

If you're looking to build a complex query, start with an easy one and then use parameter box in the sidebar to populate it with additional parameters. Since this feature is extremely flexible, I'll request you to use it carefully such that you do not invade anyone's privacy without his or her permission.

If you have some more interesting and unique graph search queries, do share them with us in the comments below.


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